Turkey talk: Kids give tips for cooking Thanksgiving turkey

Elementary students from schools in Nisswa, Baxter and Brainerd wrote out their instructions for this year's Thanksgiving meal.

Colored turkey art
Artwork by Cora Cook, a first grader at Nisswa Elementary.
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BRAINERD — Ask an adult how to cook a Thanksgiving turkey, and you’ll likely get a variety of answers with different cooking methods, seasonings and add-ons.

Ask a kid the same question, and the answers will vary even more.

Elementary students from Brainerd Public Schools tried their hands at writing out instructions for the Thanksgiving Day centerpiece.

Many were “catching” their turkeys or hunting for them, while others were going to the store.

Arah Halbersma, a third grade student at Lowell Elementary School, said the first step is going to the store and buying the “biggest turkey possible.”


“Then run it under warm water for 2 minutes to unthaw it,” Halbersma wrote. “After that preheat your oven to 350°F. Don’t forget to put the turkey on a tray! Once your oven is preheated put it in the oven for an hour and a half. (After that add your favorite seasoning. Put it on the table with the rest of your thanksgiving foods. And enjoy!)”

Several students remembered to take the feathers off, clean and thaw the turkey before cooking, and most kids put some sort of seasoning on the bird, too, like salt, pepper or butter.

Zaniyah Bervig, a second grader at Garfield Elementary, added “cinaman” to the turkey along with salt and pepper.

A lot of kids mentioned vegetables or stuffing to go along with the turkey, but Harrison fourth grader Lyric Mitchell took a more unique approach.

“First you stuff it with wip cream then throw it outside then go get it,” Mitchell wrote. “Then throw it in the oven and take it out of the oven and it cooked.”

Cooking times for the turkeys ranged from as little as seven minutes up to four hours, and temperatures varied even more.

Garfield second grader Kate Luzaich’s instructions called for 52 minutes in the oven at 91 degrees. Arianna Besett, a Harrison second grader, opted for “15-1/2 mins and 30 secs.”

A Baxter student went a little higher, opting for two hours in the oven at 745 degrees.


After cooking, students generally agreed on what to do with their turkey — eat it. Or, as Harrison second grader Aiden Bjorkland put it, “eat it like a monster and gobol it up into your mouth.”


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

Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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