Oh, Yertle. You’re such a tyrant. It’s only fitting that you end up in the mud.
When I decided to do a Story Time about turtles, Yertle the Turtle was the book that popped into my head. Dr. Seuss is incredible at pointing out life-isms with silly, rhyming stories, and this book is a great example. Yertle is king of all things in the pond, and he should be happy with that, because ponds are amazing places. He just doesn’t get it, though. Like most empire-builders, Yertle wants more, more, more, more. So he climbs to it on the backs of his subjects. Typical tyrant.
This book is fun and funny and a great way to start a turtle unit with your littles. So let’s not waste time. Let’s get to it.
Yertle The Turtle Activities
Yertle provides a great chance to combine a little history or science with your English Lesson. This book offers up opportunities to discuss empires and conquerors from the past–the Romans, the Mongols, the Greeks, the Turks. You can discuss with your littles how each of those empires died and why and the difficulties in taking over a new place and making people follow your rules. Why not have your little write a letter to Yertle telling him why he should be happy with his pond and how he should treat his subjects better? You could also have your little pick the mule, the cat, the butterfly, the sea, or any of the other objects Yertle decides he rules and have that object write him a letter telling him why he is not its king and how it cherishes its freedom. This will give your little a chance to think about how the animal or landform works and what would make it want to stay to free. As ever, there is a free download in my subscriber freebies to help him along. The directions on it are for the first idea, but it could easily be used for both.
The best science project you can do here is, of course, to head out to a pond and hunt up some turtles to observe. Take your nature journals and keep notes on what you see. If you want some great living books to go with this story, check out One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies and Box Turtle at Long Pond by William T. George. Davies’ book chronicles the life of a sea turtle while George’s book… Well, obviously it’s about a box turtle. You don’t need me to hold your hand there.
If you want a short unit to go along with all this goodness, try this Learn About Turtles download from me. It’s 8 pages of fun information and puzzles for your littles.
Well, we have to make a turtle, duh. And we may as well make one with a cool shell.
Disposable Bowl Turtle
What you need:
- 1 disposable (paper or plastic) bowl
- Green and brown craft paint (you could probably use markers for this part, but it will take longer)
- Green construction paper
- Small googly eyes
What you do:
- Paint your bowl green. Set aside to dry.
- In the meantime, cut out a head, tail, and feet for your turtle from construction paper. Since most turtles have 5 toes, I went with that for this turtle. The head and tail are just different sizes of pointed ovals. Easy peasy.
- Once the green paint is dry, use brown to paint on the scutes (plates) of the shell. You can really turn this into a neat geometry lesson for your little, asking her to paint certain shapes, or you can just let her go to town and come up with her own shapes.
- Once it’s dry, it’s time to attach your head, tail, and feet.
- Glue head and tail to bottom of shell opposite each other.
- Line up legs and glue front legs opposite each other and back legs opposite each other.
- Glue googly eyes onto head.
Done! An easy peasy turtle your little can play with!
Um, chocolate and caramel? Oh. Yeah.
Turtles are my beautiful husband’s favorite treat, so I learned to make them a long time ago. Because I can make him a cookie jar full at home for the same price a box of 15 costs in the store. Plus, I get to put the love in.
Chocolate Turtles Candy
What you need:
- 14 oz package caramels
- 1/4 cup evaporated milk
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp shortening
- wax paper
- butter for wax paper
- napkins for wiping drool
What you do:
- Unwrap caramels
- In a medium saucepan, combine caramels with evaporated milk. Drool while stirring frequently over low heat until caramels melt.
- Add pecans and stir to combine.
- Wipe your chin.
- Remove from heat and drop by teaspoonfuls onto buttered wax paper.
- Try one. Preferably the first one you dropped; it will be coolest. Restrain yourself to one.
- In a different saucepan, combine chocolate chips and shortening. Stir over low heat until melted and mixed smooth. Inhale deeply while you do this–it enhances the experience.
- Dip your caramel candies into the chocolate mixture and return them to the wax paper to set.
- Try one more. Restrain yourself if they’re for your husband.
- Store at room temp in an airtight container. If you can.
These candies are simple and easy and delicious. Your littles will think you’re the best, most magical mama ever if you make these. I am not making that up. Plus, it makes about 2 pounds’ worth so there’s Plenty For Everybody. But hoard a few back for yourself for stressful occasions. Because nothing eases stress better than chocolate and caramel.
I’m loving this Story Time! I think it’s made my list of top 5 faves. (It could just be that I love turtles so much, though. The real ones and the candy.)