Date to celebrate - May 23: World Turtle Day
What's it all about?
Your pupils may think of them as adorable pets, but turtles worldwide are facing extinction. There are seven species of sea turtle, and all are classified as endangered or critically endangered. Many are stolen as they hatch and are sold as pets, dying in transit or because their owners do not know how to care for them. Others are caught in fishing nets, poisoned, or starve to death after mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish.
If donning a turtle costume fails to appeal, show a clip from Turtle: The Incredible Journey. The trailer can be found at www.saveourseas.comturtle-trailer. This film charts the progress of FeeBee, a real loggerhead turtle on her way back home. As turtles always return to the beach where they were born to lay their eggs, you could talk about the journey FeeBee must make. What are the dangers she might face?
Stage a turtle obstacle race with primary pupils. They could be hindered in reaching the beach or finishing line by having to crawl through a large white sheet labelled plastic bag, under a tennis net, and evade capture from a pet trader. If you're feeling particularly brave, hand water pistols to a couple of well-behaved pupils.
Ask the pupils what they can do to help turtles such as FeeBee have a happy and safe journey home rather than an obstacle race. Suggestions may include not using plastic bags, avoiding shrimps and prawns as turtles are often caught in their fishing nets, and writing to the United Nations asking for more action to save these creatures.
Help, I've got no time to prepare
The World Wildlife Fund has a downloadable assembly plan that you can adapt to focus on turtles: www.wwf.org.ukwhat_we_doworking_with_schoolsresourcesassembly_ideasworld_oceans_day__age_range_11_16.cfm
Where do I get more information?
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project has downloadable factsheets on different species of turtle, along with lesson plans: www.seaturtles.org
The UK-based Sea Turtle Trust also offers factsheets and educational help: www.seaturtletrust.org.