Your little one may have more in common with the hare than the tortoise, but tot-friendly turtle activities get him to slow down for a few minutes. From dramatic play to artwork, a smorgasbord of turtle-themed activities keeps your tot entertained and may teach him something new about the creatures. No shells required for these toddler turtle ideas.
Turtle crafts keep your little one engaged as he constructs his own creative version of the animal. Many household items work well to make the shell for a crafty turtle replica. Try a paper bowl, egg carton cup or small yogurt container. Let your tot decorate the shell with non-toxic paint or pieces of construction paper before adding a paper head, tail and legs. A hatching turtle is another craft idea. Cut out a large egg shape and a turtle. Cut the egg in half, attaching the two halves with a paper brad to create a hinge so you can open and close the egg. Glue the turtle cutout onto the back of the egg so you can see the head when you open the egg.
Work the turtle theme into games that keep your little one entertained. For a tossing game, draw a turtle on a box with a hole cut out for his mouth. Take turns tossing bean bags through the hole to feed the turtle. A turtle race is another idea to keep your tot moving. Crawl like a turtle to the finish line to see who is slow and steady enough to win. If you're looking for a quiet game, make your own picture games. Cut out 10 turtles and 10 eggs. Make matching pairs by writing the same number on one turtle and one egg. Your tot matches up the pairs to practice his numbers. This game also works with colors, letters or shapes.
Who says learning is boring? A trip to a local pond for a turtle-spotting mission is an entertaining and educational trek for a child. Pack binoculars so you can watch the turtles from a distance. A sun hat, insect repellent and sunscreen keep your tot safe. If you're lucky, you'll see several turtles in their natural habitat. If you strike out, you can toss rocks in the water and have just as much fun. Another spot to see turtles is a local zoo or pet store, but don't let your little one talk you into getting a turtle as a pet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against a pet turtle due to the risk of salmonella, especially for families with kids younger than 5 or pregnant women. If you touch a live turtle, wash your little one's hands immediately with warm water and soap.
He lacks a shell, but your little one's imagination allows him to be a turtle. Make a simple turtle shell with a small cardboard box or an oval of felt. String or elastic holds the shell in place on his back. Use a blanket as a pond and pillows as rocks. If he gets bored coming up with his own turtle pretend play, read a story with a turtle character so he can perform the actions.