Little Peeps: Be a Tortoise Craft

By Amanda Castenada, Education Manager

We’re trying something new out this year and offering a series of pre-school classes during the offseason (not summer camp!) called Little Peeps, and they are going fabulously! I have been having so much fun on Wednesday mornings with this enthusiastic group of 3-5 year olds and their parents and grandparents. It does take a lot of prep work to get everything ready, but the kids and their parents really appreciate it and have a great time. The kids are so excited and interested in the animals at the Zoo that it makes my job very easy!

We are half way through this spring’s sold-out series. So far, our class themes have been “Tricky Animals,” “Bird Beaks,” and “Wild Colors.” Coming up we will be learning about “Animal Homes,” “Wild Sounds,” and “Wild Moves.” In each class we sing songs, visit animals, and make crafts.

So far, my favorite crafts have been those they can use for pretend play, like the tortoise shells they made the first day. Want to make this craft for your children? It is very easy!

¾ yard of shell-colored Ecospun felt (We used dark green)
½ yard of scute-colored Ecospun felt (We used light green)
Sharp Scissors
Tacky Glue or other felt glue
A yard stick or measuring tape to draw your pattern
This will make 3 shells

Step 1: Draw a 20 inch diameter circle on main shell-color felt, and cut out as many as you can fit on your felt. You should be able to get 3.

Step 2: Draw a 16 inch diameter circle on scute-color felt, and cut out as many as you can fit.

Step 3: Cut out plate felt circle into a center circle cut into 4ths and 6 outer circle pieces or any other shapes you would like. You can be more technical than I was and cut it into accurate scute shapes if you would like. The figure below shows how.

Step 4: Children can arrange the scutes on the shell in any order they like and glue them on with little dabs of tacky glue. They will dry enough to hold the scutes on fairly quickly.

Step 5: Because it’s made from felt, the shell stays on well when you just drape it over your child’s back. Put on your shell and pretend to be a tortoise! What do you do when a predator comes by? How do you find your food? We played the Hokey Pokey, and it was really fun. My favorite part was “Put your head in . . .”

Take a look at the Little Peeps video to see the craft in action.

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