Saturday, January 17, 2015

Teaching About Turtles

One of my favorite units to teach in my third grade classroom is our turtle unit.  It's a language arts unit, but the students learn a great deal about turtles.  I thought I'd share some of the resources we use.

Turtle Bay by Saviour Pirotta is a favorite. We do so much with this story.  We focus on theme, character traits, and on author's craft.  In this story, Taro spends time with an old and wise friend name Jiro-San.  Jiro-San is misunderstood because he is seen doing odd things such as sweeping the beach.  Later in the story, it's revealed that Jiro-San is sweeping the beach to prepare it for the sea turtles who create nests there.

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies is another favorite book. It explains the life cycle of the loggerhead sea turtle.  The illustrations are beautiful. I included some open-book photos so you could catch a glimpse.  One of the things I like best is that there are two types of print.  There's larger text, which tells a loggerhead's story as if it were a narrative.  The smaller text has facts about loggerhead turtles. There's an index, so students use it to locate information.  

A new website I've discovered is  There's a lot of information on the site. My disclaimer is to not let students search the site freely until you've thoroughly previewed it.  I play some of the videos for my students on the Smartboard.  There is a "Classroom Resources" page on the site, and that's where the videos are found.  Click here to go directly to the classroom resources page. There are videos about sea turtle migration and sea turtle nesting.  Those are the ones I show my class.  

Chickens Aren't The Only Ones by Ruth Heller is often thought of as a book for younger students,but it's full of great information.  There's a Reading Rainbow video of it, too!  At the end, LeVar goes to the beach, and there's a video of a sea turtle laying its eggs.  The quality of the YouTube video isn't excellent. You can purchase the DVD from Library Video Company.  I'd recommend watching the YouTube video first to see if you'll find it worth the price.  

I wrap up my unit by having groups complete research projects.  They can choose to do research on leatherback sea turtles, painted turtles, snapping turtles, or the Galapagos tortoise.  I've gathered some links to free sites that have good information.  The reading level is a bit challenging, so I place students in mixed-ability groups so the stronger readers can lend support.  

The links:

Leatherback Sea Turtles

Below are some sheets I've created to guide the research projects. You can grab them by clicking here or on the image below.  

Here are a few examples from last year's class.

I hope you've found some useful resources! Thanks for stopping by.

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