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Elementary students give tips for Thanksgiving meal prep

Elementary students in Brainerd and Baxter share their tips on cooking Thanksgiving Day turkeys.

Artwork provided by Isabella, a kindergarten student in Melissa Schmeck's class at Baxter Elementary School.

Turkey is a Thanksgiving Day staple for many families across the country, whether it’s baked, deep fried, smoked, grilled or prepared in any number of ways.

Those who do the cooking for their family likely have their favorite cooking method, but ask anyone else in the household, and the preparation instructions might be a little foggy. Ask the children, and, well, continue reading to see what they say.

The Dispatch did just that this year and received tips from first, second and third grade students in Brainerd and Baxter on how to cook a Thanksgiving Day turkey.

Many kids knew they must first go to a store — specifically Costco in some cases — to pick up a bird for the big day. And for some, like Kaydence in Mrs. Karlgaard’s third grade class at Lowell Elementary, the size of the turkey and brand of other ingredients are important: “1. go the store. 2. get a 11 Pound turkey. 3. get Smoky mountain meat rub. 4. go home. 5. Set oven to 200 f. 5. Wait 3 mn - and put turkey in the oven. 6. after half the time take it out. 7. Put on the rub. 8. Brush on Butter & apple juice with a food Brush. 9. Put it in the oven for the rest of the time.”

And for classmate Ella Reese one important step while buying the turkey is to “make sure it is’t allredy cooked.”


Other students went another route, listing the first steps in the process as going turkey hunting.

Harrison Elementary School first grader Autavia Johnson wrote: “First, I shot the turkey. Next, I cut the head off and pluc the feathers off. Then, put the turkey in a pan and het the uvin up. Last, put the turkey in the uvin.”

Baxter third grader Karson Backowski makes sure to clean the turkey after hunting and before seasoning and cooking it, while Lowell first grader Molly said her first step for the meal is to “cech a roostr.”

Seasonings and flavorings for the turkeys included salt, pepper, butter, garlic, rosemary and Lawry’s seasoning.

For Lowell third grader Lucas Eberle, it’s all about the seasoning: “Make the turkey 100 f. dump all your pepper on it. It will be varey warm but I want more flaver. Dump all your salt now give it to your mom. Let her eat it.”

For others who included more details, cooking times and temperatures varied drastically. Some were extra specific, like Jon in Mrs. Bender’s second grade class at Baxter Elementary, who wrote: “put it at 58° and kep it in thre for 67 minits!” But perhaps the last step is most important for Jon: “Last, I trn in to farmr brawn and kut it up and et it!”

Baking temperatures varied from 10 to 510 degrees, with cooking times ranging from three minutes to five hours.

Jude Starms, in Mrs. Jerve’s second grade class at Baxter, will have one of the more well done turkeys, setting the oven to 510 and baking it for “3 ohwers.”


Other turkeys might be a little undercooked, like that of Ava in Mrs. Bender’s second grade class at Baxter: “Put it to 12° for 3 miniss. Last, Kuk it!”

The side dishes served with the turkeys varied as well, with the traditional sides of stuffing and mashed potatoes listed and some more unique dishes like pickles, spinach and pineapple.

Visit for more student suggestions on cooking Thanksgiving Day turkeys and colorful turkey artwork.


THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .

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