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.

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 the features, gain knowledge of, and describe a desert tortoise and its habitat.

First graders' goals: to understand that animals inhabit different kinds of environments and have external features that help them thrive in different kinds of places. Compare and contrast tortoise and turtle.

Second graders' goals: to know that animals have predictable life cycles and reproduce offspring of their own kind and that resemble the parents.

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.

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.




Level: Grade 4-6


















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.


























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.