Children are fascinated by turtles and love to watch them swim and crawl around. Here are several ideas for a turtle theme in your preschool. You can also use these ideas on World Turtle Day, which is May 23. When introducing turtles, learn Ten Turtle Facts to Enhance Your Preschool Lessons and Themes.
Turtle Songs and Fingerplays
Tiny Tim the Turtle
I had a little turtle, his name was Tiny Tim
I put him in the bathtub, to see if he could swim
He drank up all the water, he ate up all the soap
and now he's sick in bed with a bubble in his throat. "hiccup"
This is my turtle
This is my turtle. (Make fist, extend thumb)
He lives in a shell. (Hide thumb in fist)
He likes his home very well.
He pokes his head out when he wants to eat. (Extend thumb)
And pulls it back when he wants to sleep. (Hide thumb in fist)
A little turtle
There was a little turtle (put hands together in a fist)
He lived in a box (make a box with both hands)
He swam in a puddle (make swimming motions)
He climbed on the rocks (use your fingers to climb up your arm)
He snapped at a mosquito (clap hands)
He snapped at a flea (chomp with your mouth)
He snapped at a minnow (clap hands)
He snapped at me (Do Home Alone Face)
He caught the mosquito (grab with your hand)
He caught the flea (grab with your hand)
He caught the minnow (grab with your hand)
But he didn't catch me (jump in excitement)
Turtle, Turtle (Tune:Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Turtle, turtle moves so slow,
Crawling, crawling, watch him go.
At the pond he looks around,
See his head move up and down.
Turtle, turtle wants to swim,
Now he slides and dives right in!
Turtle Art Activities
Paper Bowl Turtles
Have children decorate the back of a paper bowl as a turtle shells. Let them be creative with paints, torn up construction paper or tissue paper, crayons, etc. When dry, glue construction paper feet, head, and tail to the underside of the turtle "shell."
Torn-Paper Plate Turtles
Give each child a paper plate and construction paper in shades of brown and green. Let the children tear paper and glue it on the back of the paper plate. When dry, glue construction paper feet, head, and tail to the underside of the turtle "shell."
Turtle Math and Science
Egg Carton Counting
Make turtle shells out of egg cartons. Paint them green and paint a number on each shell. Have children count out small items to place under the shell to correspond with the number. You can use items such as buttons, M&Ms, or miniature turtle counting manipulatives.
Sand Table - Turtle Eggs
Bury ping pong balls with numbers written on them, in the sand table. Have children dig for 'eggs', by telling them a number and having them find the 'egg' with that number on it.
Put an Aquarium in your room with a turtle in it. Ask your local pet store how to set up the appropriate habitat. Children love to watch the turtle swim and crawl around. For more tips on having a turtle as a classroom pet, visit Petturtle.com
Turtle Motor Skills and Movement
Have children crawl like a turtle with a shell (such as a foam mat or carpet square) on their backs, trying not to lose the shell.
The Tortoise and the Hare
Read or tell the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. Have children take turns acting out the story. Discuss the meaning of the story ("Slow and Steady wins the race."). Talk about opposites 'fast and slow' with children, and talk about other fast/slow opposites. Have children act out things by fast and slow motion (ie. clapping, marching in place, etc.)
Turtle Ritz Cracker Snack
Put peanut butter on Ritz crackers and let kids use pretzels to make the legs and tail of the turtle.
Make Pillsbury Turtle Biscuits