Don’t Call Me Turtle

“To the casual observer, turtles and tortoises appear to share so many similarities that we often use the names “turtle” and “tortoise” interchangeably. But the fact is that they couldn’t be more different, says Elaine Powers, whose charming picture book employs clever rhymes and colorful illustrations to demonstrate why the two should never be confused. To begin with, while some turtles were built to paddle around in the water, she says, tortoises were not – throw a tortoise in the water, and he’ll drown. And that’s just the beginning of her lesson about these special — and very distinctive — reptiles, a lesson sure to fascinate junior naturalists and animal lovers.” Arizona Daily Star

Read Don’t Call Me Turtle aloud to your K-2 graders.
Confirm students’ understanding of the book by leading with questions that ask who, what, when, where, why, and how to encourage students’ understanding of key details. Encourage students to request clarification when something is not understood. Encourage students to express ideas, feelings, and thoughts audibly and clearly, and to use drawing and writing to tell the order of events in the story.

Copy these charts on large sheets of paper or use the whiteboard or chalkboard to draw each chart. Engage all students by calling on raised hands to answer the first two questions on each chart, and answer the last question when the unit study has been completed.

“To introduce the unit, a KWL chart will be useful. Any student who has watched Finding Nemo will be familiar with Crush, the sea turtle. If your students live near the ocean or have visited marine theme parks or if they watch educational television, they may have some prior knowledge about sea turtles. If they have no prior knowledge, they most likely have firsthand knowledge of turtles, in general. Some common misconceptions about sea turtles: hatchlings swim the oceans with their mother or father (not true– they are on their own from day 1!) and any turtle that can swim is a sea turtle.” –Elementary School Sea Turtle Lesson Plan, developed by Cathy Payne

These goals are generalized for each grade level. Spiral information of the tortoise as students’ understanding increases with each grade level. Include information from one grade level above students’ present grade level as needed to reinforce or enrich student’s understanding of the information.

Kindergarten students’ goals: to recognize and understand the differences and similarities of the desert tortoise, freshwater turtle, and sea turtle; and describe characteristics and habitats of each.

First graders’ goals: to recognize and understand the food sources for the desert tortoise, freshwater turtle, and sea turtle; and understand and identify tortoises and turtles natural predators; and understand the desert tortoise food chain.

Second graders’ goals: to know and understand that tortoises and turtles have predictable life cycles and reproduce offspring of their own kind and that resemble the parents.

 


Kindergarten Level

Kindergarten students’ goals:

  • to recognize and understand the differences and similarities of the desert tortoise, freshwater turtle, and sea turtle;
  • and describe characteristics and habitats of each.

Activity sheets for young learners. Color and cut, paste onto colored construction paper. OPTIONAL idea: create a bulletin board by covering half the board with blown paper (to represent the desert) and half the board with blue paper (to represent water). Students can color and cut out the pictures. Teacher staples the pictures in the appropriate place on the bulletin board.

 

Make your own sea turtle activity project for young learners.

Make your own sea turtle activity project for young learners.


First Grade Level

First graders’ goals:

  • to recognize and understand the food sources for the desert tortoise, freshwater turtle, and sea turtle;
  • and understand and identify tortoises and turtles natural predators;
  • and understand the desert tortoise food chain.

Natural predators of the desert tortoise.

Optional: photocopy these pages and post to the chalkboard for students to refer to as they color in the natural predators of the desert tortoise.

Spelling and tracing pages for natural predators of the freshwater turtle.

Spelling and coloring pages for natural predators of the sea turtle.

Optional: photocopy these pages and post on the chalkboard for students to refer to when coloring in the natural predators of the sea turtle.

 

The favorite food of the desert tortoise coloring pages.

The favorite food of sea turtles and freshwater turtles coloring pages.

 


Second Grade Level

Second graders’ goals:

  • to know and understand that tortoises and turtles have predictable life cycles and reproduce offspring of their own kind and that resemble the parents.

The life cycle of the desert tortoise.

The life cycle of turtles.

The meaning of the turtle reminds you not to push yourself too hard and too fast because this can result in mistakes and missed chances. Focus on the journey and pace yourself.


Third graders’ goals: to understand that tortoises depend on living and nonliving things within their environment and make adaptations for survival.

Fourth graders’ goals: to know and understand that animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.


Third graders’ goals: to understand that tortoises depend on living and nonliving things within their environment and make adaptations for survival.

Fourth graders’ goals: to know and understand that animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.

Food chains transfer energy from one level to another, linking all living organisms together. Energy is necessary for the biological world to grow and continue to thrive.

A food chain always begins with a plant and ends with an animal.

Plants are producers. Animals are consumers.

Plants produce their own food from sunlight. An herbivore (such as the tortoise) eats the plant. Soon, the herbivore is consumed by a carnivore. When the carnivore dies it decays, is broken down by bacteria, and returns to the earth where it nourishes the soil to help new plants grow.

Fifth graders’ goals: to gain an understanding of, and appreciation for appropriate interaction with the desert tortoise, and be able to explain how human activity can negatively impact the desert tortoise.

Sixth graders’ goals: To understand the needs of the desert tortoise, be able to differentiate between a need and a want, and be able to identify what a tortoise needs in its habitat in order to survive.

 

 

Vocabulary in context sheets help students learn these key words: turtle, tortoise, desert, ecology, ecosystem, habitat, organism, population, burrow, habitat fragmentation, threatened, endangered, extinct, rare species, range, diet, threats, life cycle, and adapting.