Target Grade Level / Age Range:


Estimated Time:

Three, 45-minute class periods


Students will understand turkey production, nutrition, and marketing, and will be prepared to compete in the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition’s elementary division.


  • My Family’s Turkey Farm by Katie Olthoff
  • Poster board (optional)
  • Markers, crayons, paints (optional)
  • Digital art software - Paint, Publisher, Canva, etc. (optional)

Essential Files:


  • Tom – a male turkey
  • Hen – a female turkey
  • Wattle – the appendage below a turkey’s chin
  • Snood – appendage that lays across a turkey’s beak
  • Nutrition – science related to healthy and balanced diets
  • Goods – merchandise or possessions bought and sold at markets
  • Producers – someone that makes, grows, or supplies goods for sale
  • Supply chain – the sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a good
  • Marketing – promoting and selling goods, including market research and advertising
  • Advertising – producing advertisements meant to encourage the sale of a good
  • Gregarious – fond of company or sociable

Background – Agricultural Connections:

This lesson plan is written to fully prepare a grades 3-5 elementary classroom to participate successfully in the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition. To find full rules, rubrics, and resources for this competition, please visit here:

This lesson set includes 3-4 days of learning. The first day is spent learning about turkey nutrition. The second day is spent learning about marketing and the jobs associated in the turkey supply chain. The third day is spent working in groups to create their final Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition posters. A fourth, optional, day can be spent presenting posters or recapping the project.

Turkeys raised for food differ some from wild turkeys, and from each other. Wild turkeys are usually brown, to blend in with their forest surroundings. Domestic turkeys are usually larger and white. They are white partially because consumers prefer the look of the turkey skin without the pigmentation that comes from brown feathers. Like the difference between brown and white eggs, this pigmentation doesn’t carry any nutritional difference, but instead is a visual preference.

Turkeys raised for food are generally separated into two categories: toms and hens. Toms are the male turkeys, that are usually raised for lunch meats and processed turkey products. Hens are the female turkeys that are usually raised for “whole bird” sale – like your Thanksgiving turkey. This is because hens are smaller and are easier to get home and cook properly!

In 2018, Iowa was the 7th largest turkey producing state, with 11.9 million birds. Iowa produces more toms than hens, and Iowa turkey producers have good relationships with common sub sandwich stores to provide their turkey.

Turkey farms generally raise turkeys in large, open barns with 24/7 access to feed and water. These barns are also temperature controlled to protect birds from Iowa weather extremes. Raising birds indoors protects them from weather extremes, predators, and disease.

Turkeys are gregarious animals, meaning they like to stick with each other. Though turkey barns are very large, when a farmer walks in, the turkeys are often all right at the door! This instinct in the wild would help protect them from predators.

Turkey meat is known for being very lean and versatile. Ground turkey meat can be substituted for other types of ground meat in most instances. Turkey bacon is a popular alternative to pork bacon. Whole cuts of turkey, like breasts, roasts, or legs, can be a flavorful and lower-fat protein source. In the first class of this lesson, there is more detail about the amounts of calories, fat, protein, and vitamins in a serving of turkey. The big picture takeaway is that turkey has more “good stuff” (protein, vitamins) per calorie than junk foods would. This means it can be a good part of a healthy diet!

Not unlike other areas of agriculture, there are a plethora of jobs available in the turkey supply chain. Students may be most familiar with jobs like farmer and veterinarian, but there are many “office” type jobs in agriculture, too! Jobs like marketing, advertising, public relations, communications, logistics managers, software engineering, mechanical engineering, food science, trucking, grocery store workers, and way, way more, all exist – many of which are in Iowa! About 5% of Iowa’s population are farmers, but about 20% of Iowa’s population works in agriculture. That huge difference includes all of the other agricultural jobs that support farmers and our food supply chain.

This lesson set and program focuses largely on marketing. Though marketing includes advertising, it also encompasses more than that. Marketers learn about a product, pinpoint a demographic that currently buys it or that they want to buy it, and come up with plans to get those people to buy the product at a fair price that still provides the company profit. To learn more about different aspects of what marketers do, visit here:

For the elementary division of this competition, students will mostly need to focus on the creative aspect of marketing, by purposefully creating an advertisement poster. Students will be expected to use their new knowledge of turkey nutrition to help create this advertisement. Elements like neatness, color, slogans, and accurate information are important.

To have your students’ projects be a part of the Gobble Up! Turkey Marketing Competition, you will need to register and submit projects within the designated timeline. Please visit for the current Gobble Up! timeline, and for the full rules, rubrics, and resource list.

Interest Approach – Engagement:

Begin class by either reading My Family’s Turkey Farm or watching this turkey farm FarmChat® ( video length: 6:13).

Periodically point things out to your students. What color are the turkeys? Do they live inside or outside? What kind of features do the turkeys have? Do they like to be together or by themselves? Write down some key points about domestic turkeys on the board as they come up:

  • Domestically raised turkeys are white, not brown
  • Turkeys are raised inside to keep them safe from predators and disease
  • Turkeys are gregarious, meaning they like to stick together


  1. Day 1 – Nutrition and turkey product brainstorm
    1. Begin by discussing nutrition with the class. What do they remember about MyPlate, or healthy eating?
      1. Point out ideas like balancing meals with different food groups.
      2. Protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and grains are all healthy parts of a balanced diet.
    2. Talk specifically about turkey, and turkey’s nutrition. Hand out or email the linked Turkey Nutrition worksheet to have students fill out during this discussion.
      1. What food group does turkey fit in to? (protein)
      2. What is one serving size for turkey? (3 oz.)
      3. How much protein is in one serving? (24 grams)
      4. How much fat? (2 grams)
      5. How many calories? (117)
      6. Does turkey have many vitamins or minerals? (Yes, B vitamins, selenium, and phosphorus are all present in significant amounts.)
      7. How does this compare to other foods, like ice cream or pop?
        1. Sweets, candy, and junk food have lots of calories, but not a lot of protein or vitamins. This makes food like turkey, with more protein and vitamins per calorie a more nutrient-dense food! This is good for growing students like you!
        2. Calories measure energy in a food, and they are important. We need enough calories to keep us energetic and growing, but not too many that our bodies don’t need. Nutrient-dense foods like turkey, fruits, and vegetables, help us eat the best amount of calories while still getting the nutrients we need.
    3. Next, talk about foods that students eat that include turkey. Write down as many ideas as students have. Try to encourage more ideas that students might not think about, like ground turkey in tacos, turkey bacon, roasted turkey, or turkey luncheon meat.
      1. Help the students brainstorm enough ideas so that 3-5 students could be assigned to one of the topics. (For example, in a class of 17, generate 3-6 ideas for topics)
    4. Tell students that they will now be assigned to one of these food items
      1. Start calling on students in birthday order, asking them to choose one of the items one at a time. Try not to allow more than 5 students per one topic.
        1. *If class will be fully virtual, you may allow students to work individually.
    5. When all students are in a group, be sure to note which group students are assigned to. Instruct students to also note which group they are in and their group-mates. There is space for this on their nutrition worksheet.
    6. If time allows, break students into groups to discuss their topic. Have students take notes on their favorite things about their food product, and the nutrition of that product based on earlier discussion.
  2. Day 2 – What is marketing?
    1. Start class by asking students what they think “marketing” is. Write the word marketing on the board.
      1. Take ideas from students for a minute or so, trying to guide them to the correct answer. Ask students if they’ve heard of advertising, if they see advertisements on YouTube or during shows. Advertising is part of marketing.
    2. Explain to students that things people buy (goods) also have people who sell them. There are lots of people involved, including people who make the goods, people who figure out how much the goods should cost, people who figure out if people really want to buy the goods, and all of the people who ship the goods and sell them at stores.
      1. This is called a supply chain. The agricultural supply chain helps get plants and animals from the farm to the usable products we have in our homes.
    3. Help students visualize the supply chain by making a production to consumption mind map.
      1. *allow flexibility for how this takes place. In an in-person classroom, potentially each student could make their own or the teacher could write one on the white board. In a virtual class, each student could take their own notes, or the teacher could screen-share a virtual white board.
      2. In the center of the map, write Turkey Production.
        1. In smaller circles coming out of that one, write careers or businesses that are associated in growing the turkeys and getting them to people’s homes.
          1. These careers can be things like farmers, veterinarians, marketers, nutritionists, food scientists, truckers, butchers, grocery store workers, and more.
        2. For the careers that may be harder to understand, like farmers, marketers, nutritionists, etc., add other circles off of them to give a little explanation for what they do.
          1. For example, marketers help sell products by identifying target buyers and helping to modify or create materials to help sell their specific item.
      3. For example:
    4. As a class, spend some time discussing marketing and what a turkey marketer might do. They need to figure out how to sell turkey. How might they do that?
      1. They need to decide who buys turkey (probably adults)
      2. They might tell people how healthy turkey is
      3. They might come up with new ways to use turkey (like turkey bacon)
      4. They might make the packaging or logos look really nice and pretty
      5. They might try to think of clever ways advertise, with campaigns or slogans
      6. Take other ideas for what a marketer might do to engage with potential buyers
    5. Lastly, have a class discussion about how they would market turkey if they were a turkey marketer. Brainstorm specific ideas for logos, slogans, colors, demographics, recipes, and more that they could use.
    6. If time allows, allow students to again break into their small groups and further discuss their project. With what they now know about marketing, how might they best sell their product?
  3. Day 3 – Project work time
    1. This class period will be solely dedicated to project worktime. Before breaking students up into their groups, quickly give an overview of the project. Consider writing bullet points on the white board.
      1. Each group will make one poster marketing their designated turkey product.
      2. Include turkey nutrition information
      3. Make posters neat, organized, and nice to look at
      4. You may include other turkey facts
      5. Remember – farm-raised turkeys are white, not brown!
    2. Break students up into groups with poster paper, markers, and other appropriate materials. Continue monitoring the groups throughout the worktime, helping point out room for improvement and answering questions as necessary.
  4. Wrap-Up
    1. Consider hanging all finished posters as a gallery and allowing students to do a gallery walk to view posters.
      1. Groups may also give short presentations on their posters, what they marketed, and how they tried to do that.
      2. When posters are complete, the teacher will need to make digital copies of each one (take photos or scan) and submit them to the contest submission portal. Make sure names are noted for each poster. Each project will need to be submitted separately.

Did you know? (Ag facts):

  • Iowa is the 7th highest turkey producing state with 11.9 million birds
  • Iowa raises mostly tom turkeys used for processed meats (like lunchmeat)
  • Domestic turkeys are white, not brown
  • Turkeys are never raised with the use of hormones or steroids
  • Turkeys are raised in barns to keep them comfortable and safe

Extension Activities:

  • As a class, make one of the turkey products! Include steps like food safety, nutrition of the product, safe use of kitchen tools, and a taste test.

Suggested Companion Resources:



Chrissy Rhodes

Organization Affiliation:

Iowa Agriculture Literacy Foundation

Agriculture Literacy Outcomes:

  • Food, Health, and Lifestyle:
    • A. Describe the necessary food components of a healthy diet using the current dietary guidelines
    • F. Identify careers in food, nutrition, and health
    • G. Identify food sources of required food nutrients
  • Culture, Society, Economy, Geography:
    • B. Discover that there are many jobs in agriculture

Iowa Core Standards:

  • 3rd grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.3.4: With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.
      • W.3.7: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.3-5.HL.1: Obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health.
  • 4th grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.4.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • W.4.7: Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.3-5.HL.1: Obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health.
  • 5th grade
    • English Language Arts:
      • W.5.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
      • W.5.7: Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
    • 21st Century Skills:
      • 21.3-5.HL.1: Obtain, interpret, understand and use basic health concepts to enhance personal, family, and community health.