Celebrate Thanksgiving Day with “The Turkey Dance!”



Celebrate Thanksgiving with this lively song for children! This song is called “The Turkey Dance.” So use your imaginations and dance like . . . . turkeys!! Get a little silly and have a lot of fun!

Here are the lyrics, which go to the tune of “Turkey in the Straw.” 

The Turkey Dance

Words by Kathleen Kampa and Charles Vilina, music adapted from Turkey in the Straw

copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Kampa

Spoken: It’s Thanksgiving Day.  Let’s move like turkeys.

First, Move your elbows! (Imagine that these are wings!)

Move your elbows, do the Turkey dance

Move your elbows, do the Turkey dance

Stamp your feet and shout “Hooray!”

It’s Thanksgiving Day.

(You can add “Thank You” in any language you know.)

2. Now move your hips. (Imagine that this is your tail.)

Move your hips, do the Turkey dance

Move your hips, do the Turkey dance

Stamp your feet and shout “Hooray!”

 It’s Thanksgiving Day.

(You can add a “Thank You” in any language you know.)

3. Now move your knees. . . .

4. Now move your head . . . .

5. Now move your whole body!

Teacher’s Notes:

In this dance, students are pretending to be turkeys.

Before you put on the music, show students a picture of a turkey like the one in this blog.

I usually start with a little TPR by teaching this part of the song first– “Stamp your feet, then shout ‘Hooray!'” Stamp your feet, then jump in the air on “Hooray.” On “It’s Thanksgiving Day!” put your hands together.

My students added their own ideas between the verses. Some children enjoyed saying “Gobble! Gobble!” while others liked to say “Thank You” in a language they know.

Now teach the body part movements. Say “Move your elbows.”  These are the turkey’s wings.

Repeat with each body part listed below: hips/tail, knees, head, and whole body.

1.  Make turkey wings by moving your elbows.

2.  Make a tail by putting your hands behind your back, and moving your hips.

3.  Move your knees like you’re strutting.

4.  Move your head forward and back.

5.  Choose your favorite movements, or make some new ones.  Dance!

Here’s a video to show you the movements. 

For this wonderful “hoedown” song that children LOVE to dance to, download The Turkey Dance on iTunes! The arrangement is fun and lively.

And if you want to add an art project, check out Marnie’s blog, Carrots are Orange for some autumn Montessori activities focusing on turkeys. I especially like the Zentangle turkeys from Laura Hutchinson.

Have a wonderful day!


Here’s a very short clip of my Magic Time students doing “The Turkey Dance.”


ms kampa 12-8

Kathy Kampa is a teacher, author, and teacher-trainer who specializes in working with young learners. As a former PYP (Primary Years Program) teacher in Tokyo, Japan, she uses a globally-minded and inquiry-based approach to teaching through which students develop 21st-century skills. She also supports the development of English language skills by creating songs, chants, and TPR/movement activities targeted to young learners’ needs.

Kathy and her husband Charles Vilina are also co-authors of Magic TimeEverybody Up, the ELTon award-winning course Oxford Discover, and Beehive, all published by Oxford University Press.


Celebrate Thanksgiving with this silly song --The Turkey Dance! Gobble! Gobble!

Let’s Do the Skeleton Dance


Skeleton Dance is definitely one of my students’ favorite songs! Why should you love it, too?

It teaches body parts.

It teaches directional movements.

It’s a great way to start your school day!

It’s an easy, energizing Brain Break.

It’s a perfect rainy day, get-your-wiggles-out song.!

It’s an effective activity for a health unit.

The song will stick in students’ heads.

It’s just what you need for your Halloween celebrations!

And you can invite parents to have fun dancing with their children!

The kids will ask for it again and again.

It’s so much fun!

Skeleton Dance is one of the first children’s songs that I wrote. And it’s certainly been requested over and over by children and teachers around the globe. I’ve taught Skeleton Dance to students in pre-kindergarten through junior high school. It was a favorite song with my online students from Ukraine. I’ve shared this song with teachers in America, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, The Philippines, Mainland China, Indonesia, Mexico, Finland, and Turkey.

Kathy Kampa’s Skeleton Dance has been performed by many students around the world. You can watch some of my students in Japan doing the Skeleton Dance, and read the lyrics below:

Here’s how you do the Skeleton Dance:

In this song, students will move four different body parts: shoulders, elbows, knees, and feet.
First, students move their shoulders to the beat. Explore different ways of moving each of these body parts.

 Move your shoulders . . .
A. Skeleton, skeleton, skeleton dance,
Move your shoulders, do the skeleton dance.
Skeleton, skeleton, skeleton dance,
Move your shoulders, do the skeleton dance.

Next, students move their whole bodies to the front, to the back, and to the side. I usually start by moving only my arms, but my students love to jump in each direction.

B. To the front, to the back, to the side, side, side,
To the front, to the back, to the side, side, side,

Next, students move their shoulders up, down, and around. Each time they repeat the song, they will move a different body part in these directions. When I teach this, I point with my finger to show the directions.

C. Put your shoulders up. Put your shoulders down.
Move them up and down and all around.
Put your shoulders up. Put your shoulders down.
Move them up and down and all around.

Finally, students move their shoulders in their own way.

D. Shoulders dance . .ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch
Shoulders dance . .ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch

This dance is repeated with the following body parts.
Before I play the music, my students and I figure out how we’ll move up, down, and around using each of these body parts.

2. Move your elbows . . .
3. Move your knees . . .
4. Move your feet . . .

You can download this song from iTunes (Track #15).

I hope that your students enjoy this as much as mine do.

Kathy and her English students
Kathy’s songs were written especially for young learners. Each song focuses on popular classroom topics and invites children to use their imaginations. Songs also support the development of English language skills through repetition and simple melodies. Students love moving to Kathy’s songs!

Kathy Kampa is a passionate educator of young learners. She seeks to nurture children’s imaginations and spark creativity through fun and engaging activities. Kathy believes that music and movement should be a part of every young child’s learning.

Kathy is the co-author of Magic Time, Everybody Up, Oxford Discover (ELTon winner), and Beehive (published by Oxford University Press). She has been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for over 30 years. Kathy has composed educational music for Tokyo Shoseki and recorded songs for Learning World. She is active as a teacher trainer, inspiring teachers around the world. Kathy and her husband have currently returned to her home state of Minnesota in the US.

If you’re interested in more of Kathy’s work, check out her YouTube channel at Kathy Kampa