Turtle Life Cycle Activities for Elementary School


A turtle begins its life as an egg and, once hatched, is called a hatchling. Turtles take care of themselves from birth as they grow from hatchlings to juveniles then into adults. Adult turtles migrate to beaches where the females lay eggs for the males to fertilize. The eggs are covered in sand until they hatch. Teach elementary schoolchildren about the life cycle of a turtle through multi-sensory activities and books.

Cut and Paste

  • Cut and paste activities allow the opportunity for students to visually see the life cycle of a turtle and manually arrange the life cycle in the correct order. Cut and paste activities develop fine motor and visual processing skills, and help tactile and visual learners comprehend new material. Print out a cut and paste activity from worksheets available on TimeForKids.com or make your own.

Graphic Organizer

  • Graphic organizers are comprehensive learning tools for students in all grades. Break students into groups and have them fill in a graphic organizer that shows the turtle's life cycle. Younger students can draw pictures to portray the life cycle. Older students can draw and add captions. You can make your own graphic organizer by drawing seven circles or boxes and numbering them. The students can fill in each stage: hatching, crawling to water, migration, crawling to land, finding a spot to nest, digging a hole and laying eggs. You could also use a pre-made graphic organizer, such as the one also available on TimeForKids.com.

Story Walk

  • Books are valuable learning tools for visual and auditory learners. Use books, such as "One Tiny Turtle" by Nicola Davies and Jane Chapman or "Sea Turtles" by Gail Gibbons, to pique students' interest and introduce them to the life cycle of a turtle. Take the students on a picture walk through the book first, by showing them the pictures and having them describe what they see. Next, read the story to them and see if they accurately described what was happening in each picture.


  • Use sentence strips that describe each stage of the turtle's life cycle to involve children in a hands-on sequencing activity. Make the sentence strips large and colorful, and have students work in groups to try and put the steps in order. Children can lay the strips out on the rug or use magnets to attach them to a magnetic board. This involves physical learners, who learn through movement and by doing.


  • Children learn through questioning and observation. Create journals with your class by stapling together lined paper with a construction paper cover. Have children decorate the journals with pictures of turtles. As you learn about each part of the life cycle of the turtle, have children record new facts they have learned, write any questions and make drawings of what that stage looks like. Include leading questions for children to respond to if you want to assess their learning, such as "Where does a turtle make her nest?" and "What does a hatchling do when it is born?"

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