Totally Turtles

Totally Turtles!

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum campers meet Blue Ridge Wildlife’s ambassador turtles during Hogwarts Adventure Camp.

Today, we go “Turtally” Crazy for Turtles! Did you know that, contrary to popular belief, a turtle can’t come out of its shell? The turtle’s shell grows with it, so it’s impossible for it to grow too big for the shell! Also, just like your bones, a turtle’s shell is actually part of its skeleton. It’s made up of over 50 bones which include the turtle’s rib cage and spine. Today, we celebrate all things about these fascinating reptiles, from creating handprint turtle art with Discovery Ambassador Storm Waters  to dropping in on a special turtle program with Jennifer Burghoffer and the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. Dr. Diane introduces us to The Foolish Tortoise and Yertle the Turtle and challenges us to build a Turtle Tower that’s at least 10 items high (and no, we aren’t using real turtles in the engineering challenge!).

Below are activities that all have a Totally Turtles theme. These activities include things that will help your child develop fine and gross motor skills, problem-solving and engineering skills, and can help them engage in cooperative play, while fostering creativity and perseverance. Each theme also comes with recommended literature and movie connections. Feel free to throw in your own activities that might relate, and don’t forget to post your results to social media and tag @discoverymuse to share with everyone else!

Art Activity/Fine Motor Activity

Create a Turtle Handprint Picture with Storm

Discovery Ambassador Storm teaches us how to make handprint turtles.

For this activity, you’ll need to collect the following supplies:

What will your handprint turtle look like?
  • Paper
  • Green Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Markers
  • Your Hand
  • Soap and Water
  • Paint Smock


  • This project can get a little messy, so have soap and water and paper towels nearby to clean up after you finish painting your hand. You may also want to use a paint smock.
  • Paint one hand green. You want to get all of the nooks and crannies and spaces in between your fingers. (You may want to ask an adult to help you with this part.)
  • Carefully press your green hand onto the paper. Smoosh your thumb side to side to create the head of the turtle.
  • Wash your hand and wait for the paint to dry.
  • Once the paint is dry, turn the paper so that the four fingers are on the bottom.
  • Use your markers to draw a turtle face.
  • Draw a circle around the palm print to create your shell outline. Use the markers to decorate your shell.
  • Decide what habitat your turtle is living in. Is your turtle at the bottom of the pond? Is she sunning herself on a rock? Draw those details around your turtle.

Science Time with the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center

Our friends at Blue Ridge Wildlife Center teach us all about turtles as they introduce their turtle ambassadors in this 30 minute educational program.

How Tall Is Your Turtle Tower?

Take The Yertle the Turtle Engineering Challenge

Our Engineering Challenge Today Is To Build A Turtle Tower (NOT with Real Turtles) like in Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. Can you make your Turtle Tower taller than the one Dr. Diane built?

For this activity, you’ll need to collect the following supplies:

  • Something to be Yertle the Turtle (a stuffed animal or a shoe works great)
  • Household Items to Stack (boxes, books, pillows, candles, cups, shoes, toilet paper tubes, whatever you have on hand)


  • The challenge today is to try to build a turtle tower (not with real turtles) that can safely support Yertle the Turtle.
  • Can you make your tower 5 items high? 10 items high? 20 items high?
  • Take a picture of your Turtle Tower and share it with us @discoverymuse

Physical Activity

Get some of those wiggles out while learning a little about turtles and yoga. Today, we’re going on a journey to Hawaii to learn some special sleepy turtle moves.

Conversation Starters and Research Questions

Join Dr. Diane for a read aloud where we learn about turtles and tortoises.

To do more research on this fascinating reptiles, check out the information below:

Some additional fun read-alouds about turtles and tortoises include: