Thanksgiving Turkey Cage STEM Challenge

Your Thanksgiving turkey keeps escaping! In this turkey STEM challenge, your kids will need to come up with a turkey cage design to keep the turkey nice and safe.

Turkey Cage Challenge (3)

My kids love the How to Catch series. So we were super excited when we saw that there was a How to Catch a Turkey that is perfect for Thanksgiving!

The premise of the book is that a turkey is running loose in a school right before a Thanksgiving play, and the kids have to help catch it. Don’t worry, no turkey is harmed in the making of this book!

In the spirit of making sure we don’t have any runaway turkeys to trap this Thanksgiving, we took up the Thanksgiving Turkey STEM challenge! We are going to nip the problem of runaway turkeys in the bud and devise a cage to contain our turkeys.

If you want to follow the plot of the How to Catch a Turkey book, you can turn this challenge into a turkey trap project. The same design rules apply, but instead of a cage, you are now building a trap to catch the turkey!

Build a Turkey Cage STEM Challenge


  • Materials to build the cage, such as mini marshmallows, toothpicks, toilet paper rolls, straws, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, masking tape, etc.
  • Free turkey cage challenge template (click on the image at the bottom of this post to grab the printable)


1. Determine how many turkeys you would like the cage to hold. We decided to go with 3.

2. Print out the free printable turkeys template, cut out the turkeys, and tape the bottom tabs together. Your turkey(s) should be able to stand on its own.

Turkey Cage Challenge Template
Turkey Cage Challenge Tabs

3. Give your kid materials to build the cage.

I suggest giving him a limited number of materials because too many choices could be overwhelming. You can always repeat the challenge with another set of materials. We used marshmallows and toothpicks for our challenge.

Turkey Cage Challenge Materials

4. Have your child build the cage, jump in to help only if necessary. Let him use his imagination to come up with the cage design!

5. After the cage is finished, test to see if the cage can hold the turkey(s). Ask him what improvements would he implement to the cage, if any.

Turkey Cage Challenge (2)

My kids absolutely love STEM challenges like this because there are very limited restrictions on what they could do. They could use their imagination and creativity to come up with all kinds of cages! 

If you decide to use marshmallows and toothpicks like us, here is a potential cage design for holding 3 turkeys.

My kids first started building the cage by constructing a fence around the turkey. They realized that the fence was not very tall and that the turkeys could jump over it.

Turkey Cage Challenge Initial Design

Then we constructed a roof to the cage so that the turkey couldn’t get out from the top.

When I asked my kids how we could improve this cage, they said that they would like to make it stronger and that it would be nice to have a door for the turkeys to get in and out.

We ended up placing a few more sticks to make the cage more sturdy, but we couldn’t come up with a way to make a cage door. Perhaps next time with different supplies!

Thanksgiving Turkey Cage STEM Challenge Printable

This turkey cage STEM activity is a way to sharpen your kids’ problem-solving and engineering skills. You can use it in a classroom with your students and even at a Thanksgiving party to keep the kids entertained while waiting for dinner!

This Thanksgiving STEM activity is designed for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary students. The complete set of printables for this Thanksgiving STEM activity includes:

  • Teacher instructions for turkey cage
  • Turkeys template
  • Student instructions for turkey cage (4 versions)
  • Student planning page
  • Student self-evaluation sheet

I included 4 versions of the student instruction sheet. The different versions give you the choice of whether or not you want the students to cage the bird for Thanksgiving dinner, or save the bird from being eaten. You also get a choice of whether or not you are holding multiple turkeys in the cage.

You can have your kids work together as a team to come up with the turkey cage, which is great for their collaboration and social skills. 

Turkey Cage Challenge (1)

If you are using this Thanksgiving STEM activity in your classroom, make sure to set a time limit for the students to design and build the turkey traps. I recommend giving them about 5-10 minutes for brainstorming and design and then 20 minutes for construction.

Get the Thanksgiving Turkey Cage STEM Challenge Now:

Make Thanksgiving fun with this turkey cage STEM challenge! 

Thanksgiving Turkey Cage STEM Challenge Purchase

For just the free printable turkey templates, simply click on the image below to get your downloadable copy!

Thanksgiving Turkey Challenge Template List Opt-In

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