Celebrating World Turtle Day for Grades 4-6

Activities for World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day, celebrated annually on May 23rd, provides a fantastic opportunity for teachers to teach their students about these incredible creatures and promote environmental awareness. In this blog post, we will explore a range of educational activities that are fun and engaging and encourage critical thinking, creativity, and appreciation for sea turtles. From comparing stories to engaging in “Crafivities,” these activities will ensure an enriching experience for 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students.

American Tortoise Rescue, an organization dedicated to rescuing and protecting turtles and tortoises, established World Turtle Day to raise awareness of the importance of turtles.

Turtles and tortoises are an essential part of the ecosystem and play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. However, many turtles and tortoises face threats like habitat loss, hunting, and the illegal pet trade.
On World Turtle Day, people worldwide take the opportunity to educate others about the importance of turtles and tortoises and to raise awareness about the threats these animals face. Communities plan educational programs, conservation walks, and turtle releases to help educate people about turtles’ importance and conservation. 

Be sure to get the handout. It includes the printables you need to complete some of the activities.

World Turtle Day Activities

Activity 1: Comparing Stories by Versions

Animated Short Hook

One of the activities that you can do with your students is to watch the animated short film “Hope” and compare it to a text story version called “The Brave Turtle’s Journey.” 

“Hope” is a film about the journey of a newborn baby sea turtle named Aqua, who faces many obstacles during his trip, from human pollution to different predators. 

“The Brave Turtle’s Journey” is a short story I wrote based on the film’s events. Use this chart I created with guiding questions to help your students compare and contrast the movie and the story.

Some of the questions are:

  • How do visual and multimedia elements contribute to a text’s meaning, tone, or beauty?
  • What are some similarities and differences in the genre features and aspects of the film and the story?
  • How does each version affect your understanding and enjoyment of the story?

You can have your students work individually, in pairs, or in small groups to fill out the chart and then share their answers with the class. You can also have them write a paragraph or an essay summarizing their comparison.

Activity 2: Teaching Vivid Imagery on World Turtle Day

Activities for World Turtle Day

Explain to the students that vivid imagery is a literary technique that uses descriptive words and phrases to create a clear picture in the reader’s mind. Vivid imagery can appeal to the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch and convey emotions and feelings.

Show the students the page of examples included in the handout. Here are two samples.

A sea turtle glides through the ocean like a graceful ballerina, its flippers elegantly slicing through the water.

The tortoise trudges through the desert, its ancient, weathered shell acting like a natural air conditioning unit, helping it to survive the scorching heat.

Ask the students to identify what senses or emotions are used in each example and what words or phrases create the vivid imagery.

Divide the students into pairs or small groups. Give each group a picture of a turtle or a tortoise in a different habitat or situation. You can use pictures from books, magazines, or online sources. Alternatively, let the students choose their pictures or imagine their scenarios.

Ask each group to write a paragraph describing their turtle or tortoise using vivid imagery. Remind them to use descriptive words and phrases that appeal to the senses and emotions and to avoid vague or boring language. The handout also includes a word bank to help students.

Have each group share their paragraph with the class. Ask the other students to give feedback on what they liked about the paragraph, what senses or emotions they felt while reading it, and how they could improve it.

Collect the paragraphs and display them on a bulletin board or a website. You can also have the students illustrate their paragraphs with drawings or collages. Celebrate the students’ work and praise them for using vivid imagery.

Activity 3: Learning About Different Types of Turtles and Tortoises

Activities for World Turtle Day

Provide learning opportunities for students to learn about different types of turtles and tortoises and their characteristics. There are over 300 species of turtles and tortoises in the world, and they live in various habitats such as oceans, rivers, lakes, ponds, forests, deserts, and grasslands. Some are endangered or threatened due to habitat loss, poaching, pollution, climate change, and other human activities.

Activity 4: Taking Action to Help Save Turtles

Teaching Students to Take Action

Another activity you can do with your students is to take action to help save turtles and tortoises from extinction. Many factors, such as habitat loss, poaching, pollution, climate change, and invasive species, threaten turtles and tortoises. They need our help to survive and thrive in their natural environments.

Here are some ways that you and your students can take action to help save turtles and tortoises:

  • Learn more about turtles and tortoises and their conservation status. For more information, you can visit websites such as World Turtle Day or Turtle Conservancy.
  • Adopt a turtle or tortoise from a reputable organization such as American Tortoise Rescue. You can sponsor a turtle or tortoise for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
  • Donate money or supplies to organizations protecting turtles and tortoises, such as Sea Turtle Conservancy or Turtle Survival Alliance. You can also organize a fundraiser or a donation drive with your class or school.

Reduce your plastic use and waste.

One of the biggest threats to the biggest threats to turtles and tortoises, especially sea turtles, is mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish and eating them. You can use reusable bags, bottles, straws, and containers instead of disposable ones. You can also recycle or dispose of your plastic correctly.

Spread the word about World Turtle Day and the importance of saving turtles and tortoises.

You can share your activities and crafts on social media using the hashtag #WorldTurtleDay. You can also write letters or emails to your local representatives or media outlets urging them to support turtle conservation efforts.

Create posters for turtle awareness.

Encourage students to create informative and visually appealing “Sea Turtle Conservation Posters”  about sea turtle conservation. Provide them with art supplies such as markers, colored pencils, and poster boards. Instruct students to research and include facts about sea turtles, their habitats, threats, and ways to protect them. These posters can be displayed in the classroom or school to raise awareness about sea turtle conservation.

Activity 5: Origami Sea Turtles


Introduce students to origami by guiding them through folding origami sea turtles. Provide them with origami paper and step-by-step instructions, easily found online or in origami books. This activity enhances fine motor skills and spatial awareness while fostering an appreciation for the traditional Japanese art form.

If you missed the handout link earlier, here it is again.

World Turtle Day is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and protect turtles and tortoises and their habitats. I hope you find these activities useful and enjoyable for your 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students.

Gay Miller

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