The Bridge School


5 Fat Turkeys


Teachers select songs carefully choosing songs with repetitive words and phrases and predictable actions. We re-write asongs to increase repetition, simplify language, or add parts. We provide practice using all communication modes including speech, gestures and use of AAC/AT. We also emphasize actions and add fun sound effects to ensure children remain engaged in the teacher led activity as they learn parts and sequence.

Children often naturally move their body to rhythm of a song, which makes it easier to encourage actions. Because you can sing songs over & over, children have better opportunity to learn the words. Repetition of songs means children using AT will have many chances to practice operational skills like activating switches or retrieving messages. Once they learn their part children have opportunity to practice timing their responses in context that is fun and silly rather than high pressure.

The song ‘5 Fat Turkeys’ is a holiday favorite. Children have fun with the actions and sounds acting the parts of the turkeys. Teachers appreciate the multiple opportunities to count 1-5, the additional chances to use art products children make in centers and that children can be very active in their walkers.

Standards and Goals

Learning Objectives for all Learners (Language Focused Curriculum, Bunce, 2010)

  1. Participate
  2. Enjoy different melodies and rhythms
  3. Follow directions and patterns
  4. Learn and enjoy rhymes

Preschool Learning Foundations being addressed

Adopted by the California Department of Education, Learning standards or foundations describe optimal growth, development, and learning for all children and define strategies for achieving each goal, such as excellent teaching practices and well-designed educational environments. From the California Department of Education Preschool Learning Foundations

  • Visual and Performing Arts, Music 1.2 Recognize simple repeating melody and rhythm patterns
  • Visual and Performing Arts, Music 1.4 Use body movement to respond loosely to beat and tempo
  • Visual and Performing Arts, Music 2.2 Explore vocally, sing repetitive patterns and parts of songs alone and with others
  • Social Interaction, Group Participation 3.1 Participate positively and cooperatively as group members
  • Listening and Speaking, Vocabulary,2.1: Understand and use accepted words for objects, actions, and attributes encountered frequently in both real and symbolic contexts.
  • Listening and Speaking, Vocabulary, 2.2 Understand and use accepted words for categories of objects encountered in everyday life.
  • Mathematics, Number Sense, 1.4 Count up to five objects, using one-to-one correspondence (one object for each number word) with increasing accuracy.
  • Mathematics, Number Sense, 2.2 Understand that adding one or taking away one changes the number in a small group of objects by exactly one.

Desired Results Developmental Profile Access (DRDP-Access)

DRDP-Access is used to monitor student outcomes and informs curriculum development. As we rate the various measures or learning progressions, we can document the tools and supports being used to achieve progress. From the Desired Results Developmental Profile Access (DRDP-Access).

Indicator: Children demonstrate emerging literacy skills.
Measure 34: Interest in Literacy
Child shows interest in books, songs, rhymes, stories, writing and other literacy activities and seeks information in written text.

Sample IEP goals being addressed for each activity/content area

  • Participate in simple games with peers. (Social)
  • Use aided communication systems to participate in classroom activities and social interactions. (Operational, Social)
  • Vocalize in imitation. (Operational)
  • Use an increased number of differentiated unaided communication modes. (Operational)
  • Understand and produce X# targeted vocabulary words per play theme in structured classroom routines. (Linguistic)

Materials & Preparation


  • Song scripted with parts for children,
  • Props or costumes (from Art area) to support the language concepts targeted in the song,
  • Visual supports like a short video of the song,


  1. Simplify songs: choose short, repeating songs, songs that use familiar words. We limit the number of targeted key words. Teachers follow a script (see words below) for this simple counting song identifying target actions, gestures, and words. The teacher directs and cues the children who play the Turkeys.Turkeys: Imitate and perform actions with hand/ arm, follow directions to move to specific part of a circle, use SGD to play sound effect
  2. Select Props: Children use turkey handprint pictures as their ‘costume’. Teachers punch holes into sides of picture and make ties with yarn. Children ‘wear’ pictures; which are tied on over walker straps. Children can walk up close to each other and notice and compare each others version.
  3. Select visual supports. We watch this on the first day to hear the song all the way through and to get idea of tune. For this song Bookmark this link: LittleStoryBug: 5 Fat Turkeys

Song Lyrics

5 fat turkeys 5 fat turkeys (Hold out hand to show 5 fingers)
in the barn, in the barn (Cover 1 hand with the other)
gobble gobble gobble (wiggle hands under chin)
wobble wobble wobble (extend harms out to side, move torso side to side)
run away, run away (put arms behind back)
then repeat w/ 4, 3, 2, 1
No more turkeys!, bye!

General responsibilities of adults in preparation for activity

  • Record or program parts of the song on AAC devices. Children who have siblings often bring home SGD and sibling can record their part.
  • Attach ties to hand print picture so children can wear once they get in their walker (may hang like a necklace if children won’t become tangled when use arms for movements).
  • Bookmark website with video used to orient children to song.
  • Clear a space for music time. Children use their walkers in music so they can march, dance move in and out of the center of a circle and perform actions. We clear a space for a circle so all children can see the teacher leading the class and have enough room to move to the center to jump like monkeys at specific parts of the song.
  • Familiarize staff with switches on students walkers so they can attach and set up step-by-step and other AAC devices, record messages, and trouble-shoot.

Instructional Plan

The instructional routine for Music Time is:

Students hear a preview of the song

During the preview, the teacher shows a gesture or action that goes along with the song, emphasizing key vocabulary or specific role.

After viewing this preview movie clip, the teacher says: “We’re going to learn this Thanksgiving song and pretend we are turkeys, we need 5 turkeys” (extend hand out and count pointing to 1-2-3-4-5 fingers). Teacher notices and points to children’s pictures: “Look a pink turkey, a purple turkey…, Let’s count 1 2 3 4 5 turkeys”. These 5 Children stay in center of circle.

First time through a song

  1. The lead teacher demonstrates how to participate in each part (could be an performing an action, using a SGD, vocalizing, etc). Give students time and tools to practice each part several times.
  2. The teacher talks through emphasizing fun actions to engage children in this teacher directed activity: Teacher cues to begin: “And a 1 and a 2 and ready, set, sing”
  3. Teacher sings: “5 fat turkeys 5 fat turkeys” (Extend hand to count, encourage children to hold out their hands, support teachers may count along in time on child’s fingers)
  4. “in the barn, in the barn” (2 Teachers join hands over children in center of the circle, say: We are the barn)
  5. “gobble gobble gobble” (hold hands under chin and flap hand, use SGD to play turkey sounds)
  6. “wobble wobble wobble” (extend harms out to side, move torso side to side)
  7. “run away, run away” (put arms behind back). One turkey selected to ‘run and hide’ (child goes to side of circle with help as needed)
  8. then repeat with 4, 3, 2 turkeys and 1 turkey
  9. “No more turkeys! Bye bye turkeys!” (teacher and turkeys wave and play turkey sounds)
  10. Teacher announces that music is all done and makes gesture sweeping hand out flat over lap from SEE sign (‘finished’).

Once familiar with the sequence

  • Begin activity in a consistent way to prepare children for the first turn, once children are in circle teacher announces: “And a 1 and a 2 and ready, set, sing.” Teacher claps hands on lap in a 1-2 beat which children join in and follow over time.
  • Give students roles/parts: make it clear HOW they can participate to take their turn.
  • Slow down: the pace at Music Time is slowed to allow time for everyone to participate.
  • Stress key words: sing them louder, repeat, prolong word.
  • Pair key words with actions: teachers exaggerate actions when they demonstrate.
  • End activity consistently, at finish of song.

Throughout the week

Students may try out different roles, different tools or props, and have opportunities to practice the same gestures over and over. Music time is ideal for teaching gestures. As we know, our students’ gestures may look very different from a typically developing students’, but because all partners have the shared knowledge of the song during Music, the adults know how to interpret a young child’s gesture and help shape it into a functional communicative mode over time; and with multiple opportunities for practice.


Music is designed to extend over several days. Below is a sample pace of the music over three days:

Day 1

Watch preview movie clip. Introduce song by talking through script, show and repeat actions. Watch for preferences; note which child likes to count, who likes sound effect, who likes to tease by stopping instead of running away.

Day 2

Cue children to take turns. Children begin to anticipate and initiate actions. They enjoy running away and often begin to come back into the circle which can be chaotic but really fun for preschoolers! Children often request this song like this at Outside Time as a game. Children may want to count along with SGDs. Children also like picking teachers to be turkeys or counting down with 10 turkeys.

Day 3

Repeat previous days script and reduce cues. Children may enjoy showing parents this song as part of a harvest celebration.

Template for data collection

Once a goal is defined, the activities in which it is addressed and measured are identified. Below is an example.


Student will use aided communication systems to participate in 3 structured classroom activities and loosely structured social interactions. Given AT for communication, mobility and access to materials, as measured by classroom staff-collected data.

Measurement procedures

These measurements are tied to the specific IEP goal and track the number of activities over reporting period. May note level of support in comments.






Used Supertalker™ in dramatic play/centers to ask Q and greet partners, and step by step (attached to walker) in to narrate play with doctor tools. Used Supertalker™ in music to tell parts (recorded by brother) with gestures. Used gestures in morning circle. Used gestures to make choices in snack.



Uses Supertalker™, Step by Step in dramatic play/centers to initiate interactions w/ partners, narrate and share what he is doing, brought notes from home to share what he knows about camping and able to practice referring to low tech book. Used Supertalker™ in music with 1 repeated part, learned and used gestures quickly in this context! Able to anticipate his turn and practiced songs and parts at home with family! Used Step by step in snack to share news after eating some bites.



Used Supertalker™, step by step, low tech book in dramatic play/centers, Supertalker™ and gestures in music, Step by step in snack to share home news, beginning to use Supertalker™ to greet/ask teacher question and step by step to count peers in morning circle for attendance chart.

Responsibilities of adults to support students in music activity

  • Supportive walkers and wheelchairs will need to be available. Children may start activity in their walkers and move to their wheelchairs if they become tired. As stamina builds and they become more proficient moving around children often choose to spend more and more time in their walkers.
  • Support staff position themselves behind / to side of children (on the outside of circle) so children can see lead teacher and each other. Watch for children’s focus of attention, gently and positively re-direct to teacher or peer if they are taking a turn if need be.
  • Know when and how children are expected to take turns so you can support use of SGD, props, gestures.
  • Monitor attention: always a consideration in small group activities. Look at the use of props; are they supporting attention or diverting attention away?
  • Watch for children’s interest, imitation and initiation of targeted gestures, speech, use of SGD, etc, be ready to interpret and point out children’s actions and responses during music and throughout the day. Children often perform actions and gestures learned in music during dramatic play center as we are using the same props and roles. Staff can be on the lookout and draw attention when they see children remembering what they learned.


Simple SGD

Record Gobble Gobble sound. Children can choose from recording of real turkey sound or words “Gobble Gobble Gobble”. Children often take home SGD for sibling, friend or parent to record their part.

Digital audio file

Recording of turkey sound for SGD. You can find a free download at Soundbible.

Other SGDs

Children can use pages used in other activities, for example Tobii S32 and DynaVox V/Max displays used in morning circle routine. Children can utilize these pages, which link to numbers pages to count during music time. We sing each song for several days so think about spending instructional time practicing and using modes like gestures (used across many songs); rather than teaching song specific displays that will only be used for a few days.

Resources and References

Amory, H. The Usborne First Thousand Words (Revised Ed.). Tulsa: Educational Development Corporation.

Bunce, B.H. (2008). Early Literacy in Action: The Language Focused Curriculum for Preschool. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Pub. Co.

California Department of Education Preschool Learning Foundations  The Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) Access

LittleStoryBug (uploaded 2009) 5 Fat Turkeys

Musselwhite, C. (uploaded 2009) Singing to Learn, available at

Sound for turkeys (recording of turkey):