Thanksgiving Hand Turkey Experiment

Have you ever wondered how our fingers are able to move and bend? What causes them to react to touch, pressure, and pain? We use our hands daily, from typing on a computer to holding a fork when eating dinner. But how are we able to control them?

Our hand turkey drawing will help you learn about the tendons in your hands and the muscular systems that make your fingers move! A fun and easy way to keep kids busy while you prep your Thanksgiving meal! See it in action on our Instagram post here.

Ready to learn? Let us give you a HAND!

Did you know the muscles that help move your fingers are actually located in your arm? Our hands and fingers contain dense, regular connective tissue called tendons. These tendons stretch from the muscles in our arms to the tips of our fingers. To help guide the tendons through the muscular system, tunnels called sheaths help keep them in place.

When the muscles in your arms contract, they pull on the tendons and make your fingers bend. In our experiment below, the string represents the tendons in our hands and the straws represent the sheaths that protect them!

You will need: 

  • Drinking Straws (Paper or Plastic)
  • Plain White Paper
  • Pencils
  • Crayons, Markers, or Colored Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Yarn/String
  • Tape or Glue


  1. Using a pencil, trace your hand onto a sheet of plain white paper. Make sure to add a beak and eyes to your drawing so that it looks like a turkey!
  2. Color your turkey with crayons, markers, or colored pencils.
  3. Cut out the shape of your hand turkey drawing with scissors.
  4. Add pencil marks on each finger where the joints on your hands are located.
  5. Take your drinking straws and cut them into fourteen 1-inch pieces and five 3-inch pieces.
  6. Use tape or glue to attach the straws to each joint on your paper hand. You will need two 1-inch straws for your thumb and three 1-inch pieces for the other fingers. Place a 3-inch straw on the paper palm, underneath each finger. Make sure to leave a gap between straws.
  7. Bend the fingers of your hand turkey between each piece of straw.
  8. Cut five pieces of string/yarn long enough to hang a few inches past the palm of your paper hand.
  9.  Tie a large knot at one end of each string and thread the rest of it through the straws attached to the fingers and palm.
  10. Gently pull on the bottoms of the strings and watch the fingers bend!

If you’re interested in learning about STEM and how your child can get more involved, check out our blog on Best Holiday Gifts for Stem Learners.

My First Lab has been a leader in developing STEM equipment for the past 30 years. With products ranging from microscopes and bundles to prepared slides and accessories, we are sure to have any product that a junior investigator, hobbyist, or educational leader could need. Learn how to create hands-on experiments by browsing our blog or checking out our award-winning products.