Terrapin Resources

Playing Turtle

As soon as the children have begun to direct the turtle on the screen, they will have fun “playing turtle.” You can give turtle commands to a child who pretends to be the Kinderlogo turtle. These instructions might either be spoken or written on cards as single letter commands.

Using the tiles on a floor, or a grid mapped out with masking tape, select a square and mark it HOME. Then give commands to the child to move forward one square at a time or turn right or left. To make turning simpler, use only right angle (90 degree) turns.

Create a maze made up of chairs and other obstacles. Blindfold a child who can then be guided by verbal commands through the paths by you or another child. One forward command might equal a baby-step for this activity.

The importance of this kind of activity cannot be overstated. Movement activities are very significant learning tools for young children. They need to explore the world physically and see how it reacts. Children learn how to control things in their environment by first learning how to control their own bodies. Their bodies need to learn what it feels like to move and turn in order for them to be able to predict and plan for the movements of the turtle.

As the children experiment with the turtle, encourage them to put themselves in the turtle’s position. By actually getting out of their chairs, they can point themselves in the same direction that the turtle is facing in order to determine which direction to turn.

If the children ask how the turtle can draw a circle, walk around some circles with them and analyze how people walk around circles. We go forward a little, then turn a little, then go forward a little more, and turn a little more, etc. As children recognize the pattern in their movements, they will be able to transfer this action to the turtle and discover the F R F R (or F L F L) circle pattern.

Resist the temptation to show them how to create these designs at the computer. Help children figure things out themselves. Don’t impose learning on them.