Thanksgiving Turkey Pop Up Card/Place Marker

This festive Thanksgiving craft is fun to assemble and put together, revealing a popup turkey in the end that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Give away as cards or work on it together as a whole family in order to make individual place markers for that special Thanksgiving celebration.

Here are the instructions. Follow along carefully. While you can still complete the project mixing up the order, it certainly is much easier to complete as I have instructed below.


  • Turkey printouts (they can be downloaded here)
  • Crayon/colored pencils/markers (stay away from wet media, as the warping of the paper will affect the pop up mechanics.)
  • Strong, fast drying glue (I use Tacky Glue, stronger than Elmers, but still cleans up really nice)
  • Scissors
  • Exacto blade
  • Any additional embellishments (feathers, glitter, etc)

Step I.

Print out the downloadable turkey pattern (available here) on a card stock or heavy weight paper. Construction paper is not thick enough and generally does not work well for this project.

Step II.

Color in all of the small turkey pieces. You can also color in the back tail feathers at this time, or you can wait until later. Remember, those are two sides of the same turkey head. If you wish for consistency, be sure you attempt to make each side the same.

Step III.

Cut all of the pieces out of the turkey page. Fold along all of the dotted lines. Also, very carefully, using an exact blade, cut a slit along the skinny rectangular box on the lower side of the turkey’s body. Exacto blades should be used with close adult supervision only. Be sure to have some sort of cutting surface underneath.

This slit is where the wings will slide in. Make sure the slit is large enough for the wings to slide back and forth comfortably without getting stuck. (inset)

Step IV, Attaching the Head.

This is one of the most tricky parts, so be sure to follow along carefully. First, open up the body of the turkey. Because these printouts are one sided, we don’t’ have the luxury of adding where to glue the head to the body, so we will have to eyeball it. Look at the first, top left example. The head tab (by the way, every glue area has been indicated by a diagonal line pattern for easy identification) should be placed at about 45 degrees to the line of the slit we just cut, and aligned about the same place as well. Situation the head, be sure to turn your turkey over to make sure it looks right, and then when you are satisfied, glue in place.

When the first part has dried, the next concern we have is making sure that both sides of the head align correctly together. The way we do this is simply placing the other half of the head exactly on top of the other and line it up. When you are satisfied with the positioning, add glue to the tab and fold the body on top to secure in place. Let dry.

Finally, we’ll need to glue the two head pieces together. Right up to the point where the heads fold, and a ribbon of glue. Line up the other half and let it dry securely.

Step V.

Take the wing piece and slide it through the two slits, one side to the other. Try to align the center of the wings with the center of the rest of the body of the turkey.

Step VI.

Now we need to secure the wings in place, and while doing so, we can also have the wings flap up and down as we open and close our pop up.

The way that we do this is by securing wing braces from the  center of the wing to the outer edge of the turkey’s body.

Start by glueing both wing braces as close to the centerline fold of the wings as you can.

This next step is very important. Be sure that as you glue the wing braces to the turkey’s body that the wings are straight and that the tension of the wing brace is as tight as it can be. Glue it as far away from the center of the wing fold as you can, stretching the material.

This tension is what will allow the wing to flap. Be sure that you work one side at a time and that each side has had a chance to dry securely before moving to the other side.

Step VII.

Once everything has dried, your bird is now finished. The only remaining part is to add the tail feathers, which also act as the back of the card. Before you start glueing, you will notice that I have added a black outline along the outer edge of the print out. This outline is the correct dimensions of a standard A7 or 5″ x 7″ card. If you have A7 envelopes and you wish to send this as a card, be sure to cut off the excess trim area around that black line. You certainly do not have to trim this part off, and you can leave it to be 5.5″ x 8.5″. (I have also seen crafters trim around the edge of the tail feathers, so that the top edge of the card or place holder takes on the shape of a turkey’s plume. If you choose to do this, keep in mind that when the card is folded, the wings fold down as well, and the extra space beneath the wings on the card is needed to keep those wings tucked in.)

Remember, the diagonal line pattern indicates where the glue should go. If you match the tabs from the turkey to the space indicated on the tail feather page of this project, it should line up and fit perfectly. You want the center of your bird to match the center of the folding card, so that it folds nice and flat.


This is the final stage. Once everything has dried, you can continue to embellish with feathers, glitter, color or whatever it is you wish to add to your turkey. Feel free to add any holiday greetings to the outside of the card. Be creative with it and see where your imagination might take you! If you would like to share your finished turkey with us and the rest of our viewers, email us a nice photo and we’ll add it to the Painting For Life Facebook page.



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