This is a unit that investigates things with shells. The students take an in-depth look at animals with shells and the different types of shells.
- Research a type of turtle and create an informative poster about it
- Design a turtle shell
- Write a story about a time they came out of their shell
- Chart paper
- Computers with internet access
- Turtle Research Worksheet printable
- All About Turtles by Jim Arnosky
- Large sheets of white paper for posters
- Crayons, markers, colored pencils, or paints
- The Foolish Tortoise by Richard Buckley and Eric Carle
- Reference books about turtles
- Paper plates, two per student
- Brads, one per student
- Patterns of turtle legs, tails, and heads, one set per student
- Use a sheet of chart paper to create a K-W-L chart for a class discussion.
- Bookmark websites for students to use for their turtle research. I have my groups use Enchanted Learning for online research. If you don't have computer access for all students, print out information you would like students to use.
- Make a class set of the Turtle Research Worksheet printable.
- Create a pattern of turtle legs, tail, and head. Each student will need a complete set of four legs, one tail, and one head shape. I recommend drawing the patterns on one sheet of paper, then making photocopies for the students. You can also create the patterns on cardstock and have students trace the shapes onto paper.
Step 1: Begin this lesson by asking students, "What do you already know about turtles? What would you like to know about turtles?" Write down their responses on a large K-W-L chart.
Step 2: Ask students, "How many of you have ever seen a real turtle? How big was it? What did its shell look like? Can you name any of the different kinds of turtles?"
Step 3: Read All About Turtles by Jim Arnosky. Stop and bring attention to the different species of turtles mentioned in the beginning of the book. Make a list of the different types of turtle.
Step 4: Next, focus on the shell. Introduce the term carapace, which is the top shell, and plastron, which is the bottom shell. At the end of the book, ask students, "What are some differences between a turtle and a tortoise?"
Step 5: Divide students into partners or small groups of no more than three. Assign each group a different type of turtle to research and distribute the Turtle Research Worksheet printable. Allow time for students to complete their online or print research.
Step 6: After the groups have completed the Turtle Research Worksheet printable, give each group a large sheet of white paper to create an informative poster. Ask the groups to draw a picture of their turtle in its habitat. Groups should use the information from their handouts to write five facts about their turtle on the poster.
Note: I let my students put the facts on the poster any way they like. I let their creativity flow.
Step 7: Have students color or paint their posters.
Step 1: Read The Foolish Tortoise by Richard Buckley and Eric Carle. As you read, ask the following questions:
- Do you think it was a good idea for the tortoise to leave his shell? Why or why not?
- What are some of the things the tortoise used to protect himself during his journey?
- When do you think the tortoise realized he had made a bad choice? What did he do to fix it?
- Have you ever made a bad choice? What did you do to correct it?
Step 2: Ask students, "Why is a shell so important to a turtle or tortoise?" Review the terms carapace and plastron from Day 1.
Step 3: Look at some of the pictures of turtle and tortoise shells in some of the reference books. Have students look for details in the shells. Explain that students are going to create their own turtle shells to wear.
Step 4: Give each student one paper plate for the carapace. Have students design their shell in pencil first, then color the shell.
Note: I have my students color in crayons or colored pencils and outline in markers.
Step 5: Hand out the second set of paper plates for the plastron. Have students design this part of the shell in pencil and color it in.
Step 6: Give students the leg, tail, and head patterns to color and cut out.
Step 7: Have students glue the four legs, tail, and head onto the unpainted side (inside) of the plastron plate.
Step 8: Have students put the two plates together so that the designs on both face outward. Help them use a hole puncher to put a hole in the top of both plates.
Step 9: Have students connect the two plates with a brad. The shells should be able to swing open.
Step 10: On the inside plate, have students write about a time they "came out of their shell."
Step 11: Have the groups of students present their posters and finished plates.
Supporting All Learners
To meet the needs of all learners, I have students work in small groups. The research may be challenging, but in a small group they can work together. Creating the shells is a hands-on task that most students can complete with little or no help.
- Create a word search with the different types of turtles using Discovery Education's PuzzleMaker. Print a copy for each student and distribute them if students finish an assignment early.
- Have a turtle race with students wearing sacks.
- Break students up into small groups and have them write and perform a skit about turtles using turtle outfits.
Have students tell their parents three things they learned about turtles. Have students ask their parents if they know what a carapace or a plastron is. If the adults don't, students should explain the difference to them.
- Complete a word search of the names of the different types of turtles.
- Create a unique turtle shell using items from home.
- Were students able to work with their partner to complete the turtle poster?
- Did students have a difficult time with the research?
- Were students able to complete their turtle shells independently?
- Did students respond to the questions asked?
- Were students able to complete the turtle posters?
- Can students name at least two different species of turtles?
- Did students follow directions when completing their shells?