Children's Turtle Activities

by Karen LoBello

    Ever since your child went to the zoo, he’s been infatuated with turtles. And don’t forget how he coos over that cute little turtle in his favorite cartoon. He thinks the way a turtle goes in and out of its shell is amazing, but you’re not sure you can watch him pull his head in and out of his shirt one more time. Feed his interest with activities that would make any little turtle-lover happy.


    Preschoolers enjoy role-playing and fantasy. Read a book about turtles. Give your little actor a turtle mask and ask him to act out his favorite part of the book. Young children like finger plays. Find a finger play online or make one up that starts with “Here is my turtle, he lives in a shell.” Your child can use his fist as the turtle’s shell and poke his thumb out as the turtle’s head to act out the finger play.


    Create homemade play dough with simple ingredients like flour, water and salt. Divide it into four bowls and add green, brown, yellow and red food coloring. Place pictures of turtles in the area where your little one can easily see them. Is your child a budding artist? Who cares? He’ll have fun sculpting a baby turtle while you try your hand at the mother turtle.

    Science Game

    Preschoolers think magnets are magic. When he has a playmate visiting, what could be more fun than a turtle race? Make turtles out of sturdy paper. Attach paper clips to each turtle. Set the turtles in a tub of water and let the races begin. Each child grabs his turtle’s paper clip with a magnet and races it through the tub of water.

    Language Arts

    After a quick trip to the library, story time can be all about turtles. Your child may have a favorite book and want to hear it over and over again. Toddlers and preschoolers love rhyme and repetition. Talk about Tommy the Turtle’s beginning sound. Make the letter T with sandpaper and let your child trace it with his finger. Help him cut pictures from magazines of other items that begin with T. Glue them onto a collage poster and put a picture of a turtle in the middle.


    Buy a tub of plastic turtles or make your own from differently-colored card stock. Your preschooler will think of several ways to sort the turtles. Help him count the blue turtles and the red ones. Set three turtles on the table and ask your little math whiz to count them. Set down four more and have him “count on” for the total number of turtles.


    Although pet turtles have become popular in recent years, don’t plan on entertaining your preschooler with a live one. Since turtles carry potentially dangerous bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention don’t recommend them as pets for households with children under five years old.

    About the Author

    Karen LoBello is coauthor of “The Great PJ Elf Chase: A Christmas Eve Tradition.” She began writing in 2009, following a career as a Nevada teacher. LoBello holds a bachelor's degree in K-8 education, a secondary degree in early childhood education and a master's degree in computer education.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images