STEM Saturday: Turkey Anatomy

Most of the country is preparing to have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, turkey included. But what are you going to do with that 20lb bird carcass once the meal is over?

Our family has a little tradition, it started when LittleMan was just shy of two years old and it continues on, over half a decade later. We call it the “Black Friday Turkey Dissection,” and every year it gets a little more complex.

STEM Saturday Post Thanksgiving Turkey Anatomy 

To do this is very simple. First decide if you want to do it the messy way (not for the weak of stomach) and just dig as soon as the bird has had all the meat carved off. Or, if you want to do it the less messy way, and clean the bones first. Cleaning the bones is as simple as a quick boil once the meat has been removed. (Pictures in this post are from the less messy, boiled bones method.)

turkey anatomy 2

From there, just jump in. Go at your child’s pace, relate it to what they are interested in. Don’t be afraid to utilize Google when you don’t know the answer.

The first year we did this we talked about how the skeletal system gave the body shape, how the bones were held together by ligaments, how the muscular system wrapped around the skeleton and moved the body via tendons and nerve impulses, and how certain bones (such as the ones in the rib cage) protected vital organs from damage.

One year the focus turned and all we talked about for an hour was how the turkey skeleton was like a dinosaur skeleton. Another year we went through and tried to identify every bone we could.

turkey anatomy 3

If you need a bit of help answering your children’s turkey anatomy questions, I find to be a useful and informative site. Much of the discussion that happens around our yearly turkey dissection is junior high and/or highschool level science, however my preschooler and 2nd grader grasp the information they are being given because of their hands on experiences with it. Never underestimate what your child can learn when they are wrist deep in it!


Be sure to check out what my STEM Saturday co-hosts are up to this week!

Construction Play With Bunchems | Creative Building from The Science Kiddo

Edible Igneous Rocks and other fun from The Usual Mayhem

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