Teaching about living things has an important place in early childhood classrooms. In the science curriculum in their first few years of school, children learn
- What is a living thing
- Needs of living things
- Features of living things
- Life stages of living things
I have previously written about keeping and observing minibeasts in the classroom, learning about life on a farm, learning about living things – sea turtles, and observing animals in the local environment. In addition to the teaching ideas suggested in the blog posts, there are many resources in the science collection to assist you with your work.
This week, in celebration of World Turtle Day on 23 May and World Environment Day coming up on 5 June, I have uploaded new resources to support learning about sea turtles and the existing non-fiction digital text Let’s find out about Sea Turtles.
What do you know about Sea Turtles? is an interactive quiz designed to aid teaching rather than to test knowledge. It consists of ten questions, the answers to which can be found in Let’s find out about Sea Turtles.
The quiz allows multiple attempts at each question until the correct answer is given. If both resources are open in different tabs, it is easy to move between them to check for the correct response.
With a variety of interactive question and answer types, the quiz is a fun way to review what children have learned about sea turtles. Each question provides an opportunity for discussion and investigation.
Turtle domino cards is a set of turtle-themed domino cards that can be printed and laminated for whole class lessons, small group activities and independent work.
The dominoes can be used to develop fluency in number with
- addition turn arounds
- missing addends
- speed of recall
While they are great for extending the theme when learning about turtles, the dominoes can be used at any time for developing number concepts.
For a bit of fun and problem-solving, these 9 square turtle puzzles are great for fast finishers or as an acknowledgement of completing the unit.
Why is it important to learn about sea turtles?
According to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, there is much we can learn about the health of the environment from sea turtles. While they have survived for millions of years, including the meteor crash that wiped out the dinosaurs, they are now struggling to do so, largely as a result of human impact.
Sea turtles live and travel throughout the world’s oceans and play an important role in maintaining our planet’s health. Sea turtles, especially green sea turtles, help to maintain the ocean’s sea grasses which provide a breeding ground for many species of sea creatures, which in turn become food for others further up the chain, including humans.
When sea turtles come ashore to lay their eggs in sand dunes far up the beach, they also contribute to the health of the dunes and the beaches. Nutrients are added to the sand from eggs and hatchlings that don’t survive. These nutrients support plant life that in turn strengthens the dunes and help prevent erosion.
With their dual roles of supporting healthy marine as well as shore environments, we must do what we can to protect sea turtles. Our survival is interlinked with theirs.
As Renee Hills said when I interviewed her about her beautiful picture book Turtle Love,
“Humans are having a huge impact on our environment and all species with whom we share the planet. Each of those species has a right to life, to safety, to have a place to call home. We need to affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part.”
What can you do to help protect sea turtles?
Even if you don’t live near the ocean, you can still help maintain the health of our planet. A healthy planet contributes to the health of all its inhabitants.
- Reduce waste. Reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible.
- Reduce the use of chemicals. Chemicals can be washed into oceans and kill plants and animals. Replace gardening and cleaning products with biodegradable alternatives whenever possible.
- Reduce the use of plastic. Sea turtles and other animals can become entangled in plastic products on the beach or in the water. They may confuse plastic bags and other items for food and become sick or die when they try to eat them.
- Consume seafood that has been sourced responsibly and sustainably.
If you are at the beach
- Take all your rubbish with you. Leave nothing behind but footprints is good advice for the beach as elsewhere. If you see rubbish left behind by careless others, clean it away too.
- Be aware of turtle nesting areas and avoid damaging nests or disturbing the nesting mothers or hatchlings on their way to the water.
- Avoid shining bright lights near nesting turtles or baby hatchlings. The turtles use the light of the moon and its reflection on the water to guide them. Bright lights may disorient them.
- Be aware of turtle habitats and movements to avoid injury to them when boating or jet skiing.
How does World Environment Day help sea turtles?
The theme for World Environment Day this year is Beat Plastic Pollution, If you can’t reuse it, refuse it.
An article on the website discusses Picking up litter: Pointless exercise or powerful tool in the battle to beat plastic pollution? With many organisations, councils and governments around the world banning use of the plastic bag, and many individuals making the decision to avoid one-use plastic, it seems the tide is turning. But there is still a lot of plastic waste in our oceans, rivers and other water systems. Cleaning them up is an essential part of making our environment healthier.
Some argue that “Cleaning a beach is not turning the tide, they say, because the tide will just come in again, depositing more plastic cups, bottles, straws, bags and discarded fishing equipment. What we need to do, they argue, is reduce unnecessary plastic at source, design less harmful products and develop better recycling processes.”
Others say that “Every piece of trash that is taken away to be recycled or deposited in a landfill means there is one less dangerous item for birds, turtles or whales to swallow. Cleanups also restore these creatures’ habitats.”
I think we need to do both. Education is where it all begins. In the early childhood science curriculum, children begin to learn formally about living things, their needs, and their life stages. This knowledge helps to develop an understanding of, and appreciation for, all living things. But their attitudes are often learned at home. Children are keen observers. They learn what they see, and they need to see parents and teachers implementing environmentally friendly practices on a day-to-day basis.
How can you show children you care about our sea turtles and the planet?
I appreciate your feedback and comments. Please share your thoughts below.
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