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Turtle Bay Author

Turtle Bay

Author: Saviour Pirotta
Illustrator: Nilesh Mistry
Summary: Taro is fascinated by the strange actions of Jiro-San, who sweeps the sand on the beach while waiting for the arrival of Japanese sea turtles ready to lay their eggs.
ISBN: 0374378886

Unit study prepared by Jen Unsell


Geography: Japan

Our story takes place in Japan. Have your child draw a small sea turtle and then tape it on your World Map next to or on Japan. Find the flag of Japan and have your child make his own Japanese flag to hang near your map. Point out to your student that Japan is an island. It is actually made up of many islands. Japan is about the size of the state of Montana here in America. Japan's four main islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku. With your student make a salt dough map of Japans islands using the following recipe. 


Mix 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt and 3/4 cup water. (Add a little water at a time). This should make a very thick dough. Add more flour if needed. Spread dough over a map you've outlined of the islands of japan on heavy cardboard or plywood. You will want your cardboard to be large enough to leave space around all sides of your island(s). Use your world book Encyclopedia as a guide for the land forms in Japan and then shape mountains, valleys, plains, etc on your dough map. You may dip fingers lightly in water to smooth out rough places in dough. You will need to let your dough map dry for 1-2 days depending on the humidity where you live before painting it. (Note- this recipe should not be done on a rainy day because the salt draws the humidity and your map will run). Once your map is dry, paint on the major rivers and land forms. You can paint the mountains you made brown, rivers and major lakes blue, and forests green. Have your student paint around the island on the cardboard blue to represent the ocean-- leaving an area for the beach in between the island and ocean. You can spread some glue around the island where your beach should be and then sprinkle brown sand on the glue. Your student can take the buildings from a monopoly game and place them on your map where Japans large cities are. 


If your student is interested in learning more about some of the big cities in Japan, there are some wonderful picture books that you can check out from your library. I Live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi is one. 


Japan's un-offical national flower is the cherry blossom. It has been celebrated for many centuries and takes a very prominent position in Japanese culture. Your student might enjoy painting some cherry blossoms on your salt dough map of Japan. Find some pictures online of cherry blossoms to show your student. There are many dozens of different cherry tree varieties in Japan, most of which bloom for just a couple of days in spring. The Japanese celebrate that time of the year with hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties under the blooming trees.


Edmond Scientifics online has a magic garden for purchase that your student can grow. It has a mountain and two trees that resemble the cherry trees and Mount Fuji in Japan.



Social Studies: Japanese Culture 

Turn to the page where Taro and Yuko are in their home. Ask your student to name the things about their home that look different than his home. If you have studied A Pair of Red Clogs or Grandfather's Journey in Five in a Row then your student knows that Japanese culture is different in many ways from American culture. Review those differences with your student. If you have not studied Japan before with your student talk about Yuko and Taros table that they are eating at. What are they sitting on? What are they eating with? What are they eating?  Can your student guess? Sushi is very popular in Japan. Does your student know what sushi is? Your local Chinese and Japanese restaurants probably have sushi bars. A field trip out to eat one day during your time with this story would be fun, especially to a restaurant that has a sushi bar that your child can observe. There is a wonderful book called Hiromis Hands by Lynne Barash which is the TRUE story of the lives of two sushi chefs: a father and daughter. The story has some wonderful illustrations of sushi in it. For fun why don't you make some pretend sushi to enjoy with your student. You will need: 


Pretend Sushi Rolls 

8 fruit roll ups 

1/4 cup butter

1 (10oz) pkg marshmallows 

6 cups crisp rice cereal 

16 gummy worms. 


Unroll the fruit rolls and place with plastic sheet down on a cutting board. Melt butter in microwave and add marshmallows. Heat again stirring every 30 seconds until marshmallows melt into butter. Stir in rice cereal until blended. Spread about 1/2 cup cereal mixture quickly over each fruit roll, leaving 1" border on 1 long side. Arrange 2 gummy worms lengthwise down center of cereal mixture and roll up starting at side without border. Press to seal. Repeat with remaining fruit rolls. Cut each roll into 1/2-1' slices. Serve with chopsticks! Your student might also enjoy the book Sushi for Kids: A Children's Introduction to Japan's Favorite Food by Kaoru Ono. 


It would also be fun to create a Japanese dinner one night during your time with this story. There are many recipes online that you could find to make. Your local grocery store will have chopsticks in their oriental section for a small price or you could buy Chinese take out and get some from the restaurant. Pick up some chopsticks and enjoy a dinner around your coffee table sitting on pillows. Play some Japanese music during your dinner. 


The Native dress of Japan is the kimono, a loose fitting outer garment with short, wide sleeves and a sash. Kimonos are worn by men, women, and children in Japan, even today, though they were more popular years ago. Dover Publishing has several Japanese paper dolls wearing kimonos for a small price or you could cut out your own paper dolls and have your student design their own kimonos for them. If you want to surprise your student with a kimono of his own you can purchase them from China Sprout or Magic Cabin online. 


Their is a wonderful book called Look What Came from Japan by Miles Harvey that explores the things in our world today that originated from Japan. Check out your local library for more book titles on Japanese Culture. 


A few other avenues of Japanese Culture that you might enjoy exploring with your student are Haiki, Origami, Bonsai Trees, Bamboo, kite festival, Mount Fuji, The Bullet train, and Japanese Writing. Your local library and the internet will have resources for each of these subjects. 



Social Studies: History of Japan

Your older student might be interested in learning about the history of Japan. Has your student ever noticed that Japan and China are much alike in their cultures? Through the 700s Japan was much influenced by China, and the Yamato clan set up an imperial court similar to that of China. Recorded Japanese history begins in approximately A.D. 400, when the Yamato clan, eventually based in Kyoto, managed to gain control of other family groups in central and western Japan. First contact with the West came in about 1542, when a Portuguese ship off course arrived in Japanese waters. Portuguese traders, Jesuit missionaries, and Spanish, Dutch, and English traders followed. 


If you want a brief history for your student of Japan then you might enjoy the picture book An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura. In this book Nishimura uses panoramic paintings to visually tell the story of Japanese history.


Does your student know that America and Japan have a history with one another? Explain to your student that WWII involved most of the world's major countries and was fought between 1940 and 1945, with Japan, Germany, and Italy eventually losing. During WWII their was a Japanese surprise attack on the United States Navy's Pacific base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Help your student find Hawaii on your world map. This attack took place on December 7, 1941. If your student wants to learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor then you might want to read Pearl Harbor: Ready to Read Level 2 by Larry Day with your student. As with all books, please preview this book before reading it with your student. Several years after the Pearl Harbor attack America dropped the first nuclear power bombs on Hiroshima and Nagaski, Japan. If your student is interested and you feel he is ready to learn more about the history of World War II, then there is a wonderful book called World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk. You could spend weeks studying just World War II. Look at the illustrations of Jiro-San in our story. He is an old man. How old does your student think he is? Does your student think he would have any memories of World War II and the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima? 


Your older student might enjoy researching the history of the Samuri Warrior in Japan. 


Social Studies: Pollution on Beaches

In our story Taro's sister thinks Jiro San is eccentric because he sweeps the beach, but Taro comes to understand that the man is preparing for the arrival of his friends, the sea turtles. The fact is that pollution on beaches is a serious issue and poses threat to animals who live their. Discuss with your student the importance of not littering and ways we can all keep our area of the earth clean. Try these couple of experiments together as you discuss pollution. 



The goal of this experiment is to determine one effect of plastic garbage pollution on sea animals. 

Need: rubber band 


Hook one end of the rubber band around your little finger. Stretch the rubber band across the back of your hand and hook the free end on your thumb. Try to remove the rubber band without touching anything. Seals and fish do not have hands. How can they remove the plastic rings from six- packs of beverages if they get these around their bodies? How is garbage that is dumped in the ocean affecting the sea organisms? 


It is very difficult to remove the rubber band from your hand. Seals, fish, and other animals that get tangled with plastic rings find it equally difficult to remove them. Why? The plastic items in garbage are deadly to sea animals. Turtles swallow floating plastic bags because they mistake them for jellyfish. their digestive tract becomes blocked and they die. The animals that get plastic rings around their bodies often cannot remove them and they also die. It is still being researched but it could take as long as 300 years for plastic garbage to decompose in sea water. The trapped animals cannot wait for this. We must take action to prevent the pollution of our oceans. 



Oily Feathers 

The goal of this experiment is to demonstrate the effect that polluting detergents can have on birds 


Need: 1 quart clear glass bowl 

measuring cup 

liquid oil 

powdered washing detergent 

measuring spoon- teaspoon 


Pour 1 cup of water into the bowl. Add 1 spoon of liquid oil. Observe the surface of the water. Sprinkle 2 spoons of powdered detergent over the surface of the liquid. Gently stir the water to mix, but try not to produce bubbles. Again observe the surface of the water. 


The oil spread out in large circles on the surface of the water before the addition of the detergent. When the detergent was added, some of the oil sank and the rest broke up into tiny bubbles that covered the water's surface. Why? Water is heavier and does not mix with oil, thus the oil was able to float on the waters' surface. Detergent molecules stick to water one one side and the detergents opposite side sticks to the oil. The large circles of oil no longer exist because there are molecules of the detergent which allows the oil and water to mix. Detergents can cause a swimming bird to sink and drown. Birds say a float because of the oil on their feathers. The birds are waterproof. If the birds become soaked in water containing a high concentration of detergent , the natural oil in the birds feathers  would break up into tiny droplets and allow water to penetrate the feathers. The bird would lose it's waterproofing and the extra water on the feathers would increase the birds weight and it would sink. 



*A great book to read on pollution is Oil Spill by Melvin Berger 


Language Arts: Vocabulary

1) Rubbish- worthless, unwanted material that is rejected or thrown out; debris; litter; trash.

2) Scrambled- to climb or move quickly using one's hands and feet, as down a rough incline. To move hastily and with urgency.

3) Flung- to throw, cast, or hurl with force or violence.

4) Dusk- the state or period of partial darkness between day and night; the dark part of twilight. 
5) Eager - full of energy and interest
6) Litter  - trash that has been dropped on the ground and left there
7) Message - information passed on to a person by written words or by sound
8) Patiently - without fussing or complaining even after a long time
9) Trained - taught people or animals to do something well by having them repeat the task over and over; instructed
10) Wise - able to understand why things happen in life as they do and to make good decisions based on that understanding


Every time that you read the story share one or two new words and meanings with your student. Have them listen for their word(s) when you read the story. 


For another language arts lesson, see FINAL LESSON at the end of this unit. 

Art: Colors 

The illustrator has used realistic drawings suffused with gold, blue, and lavender to set the mood in our story. Using watercolor paints let your child experiment with the colors and see if he can match the gold, blue, and lavender colors in our story. 


Art: Clay Dough Creations

Using the following clay recipe have your student create a sea turtle and then paint it after it has baked and cooled. When he has finished his sea turtle, have him place it in the ocean area of his salt dough map. This recipe is enough for your student to make more than one sea turtle. You can halve the recipe if desired but you will need some more clay for some projects listed in other parts of this unit. (*Note- it would be best to do this art project after you have done the science lesson on Sea Turtles)


4 cups flour  

1 cup salt

1.5 cups water

 2 T vegetable oil


Mix all together. Knead until smooth. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour!


Math: Word Problems/Multiplication

Our story is full of opportunities to practice word problems and multiplication. Here are a few examples. If 12 turtles come to the shore and each lays 120 eggs how many eggs would their be total on the beach?


Math: Counting

If you have a younger student that is reading along with you, let them count the turtles on the page where the baby turtles are going back out to sea. Your student could also count the eggs that the female turtle lays. 


Math: Graphing of Whale Sizes 

(*Note- this math lesson should be done during or after the science lesson on whales in this unit). 


In our story Jiro-San and Taro see whales when they are out in the boat together. Whales come in all shapes and sizes. Have your student make a graph of whale sizes using the following whale lengths and compare it to a human child's length. 


Humpback Whale- 52 feet 

Orca (Killer Whale)- 27 feet 

Gray Whale- 45 feet 

Sperm Whale- 60 feet 

Narwhal- 16 feet 

Bottlenose dolphin- 12 feet 

Blue Whale- 110 feet 

Beluga Whale- 15 feet 

Human Child- 4 feet 


Write the names and lengths of the whales above to the side of your graph. At the bottom of each box on your graph write out the following, one per box.  


10 feet 

20 feet 

30 feet 

40 feet 

50 feet

60 feet 

70 feet 

80 feet 

90 feet 

100 feet 

110 feet 


For each whale, have your student put a line through the right number of boxes to show how long it is. Which whale is the longest?  (smallest?  which whales are similar in size?)  


Math: Measuring a Sea Turtle

Ask your student if he has ever seen or handled a land turtle? If so, he knows that they are smaller than he is. Sea turtles are much larger than land turtles. To demonstrate this to your student, go outside and let him use a tape measure and chalk to draw a leatherback turtle on a flat surface like your driveway or sidewalk. Make your drawing nine feet long and six feet wide. You can use a picture of a sea turtle as a guide for what your drawing should look like. What does your student think about the size of a leatherback sea turtle? Would he want to run into one in the ocean? Remind your student that not all sea turtles are this large. Different species have different sizes.


Science: Sea Turtles

There are many different kinds of turtles from tortoises and pond turtles to snapping turtles and sea turtles. Ask your student if he has ever seen a turtle? Most turtles can swim and enjoy the water but many are considered land animals. The turtles in our story are sea turtles. They are the only true aquatic turtle because they live their entire lives in the sea. How long do you think that life is? Interestingly enough, we don't really know. No one has actually been able to observe one long enough from birth to death to get an accurate number. Most scientists believe they live about 40-60 years, perhaps a little more. 


Sea turtles are reptiles. Reptiles have scales and a backbone. They are cold-blooded and they breathe with lungs. Reptiles include:




The one thing that separates a turtle from other reptiles is it's shell. Sea turtles have flat, streamlined shells. The leatherback sea turtle has a tough, leathery skin instead of a shell. A turtles shell is made up of an upper dome called the carapace (kehr' uh pace) and a lower plate called the plastron (plas' trun). Both of these parts are covered with plates (called scutes) put together like a jigsaw puzzle. the scutes are made of the same substance as your fingernails- keratin.  As a turtle grows, it's shell grows with it. A sea turtles shell is flatter than those of other turtles. This gives them a more streamlined shape, which helps them move through the ocean water, wrestle with ocean currents, and make quick escapes from turtle eating sea creatures. 


In cartoons you will see turtles pull their necks into their shell, and even their feet as well. A sea turtle however, cannot escape into it's shell. It can only pull it's head in a little. 


Sea turtles can see, hear and smell. They do not have teeth, but have strong jaws and a hooked beak.


Sea turtles can soar through the ocean like a bird flying through air but they do not do very well trying to get around land. Their flippers aren't very good for walking, so the only way they can move about on land is to very slowly drag themselves from one place to another. In order to demonstrate to your child how hard it is for a sea turtle to move on land, try the following experiment. 

Sea Turtle Lapbook at HSS


Move Like a Sea Turtle: 

A female sea turtle uses her front flippers to pull her body hundreds of feet up the beach so she can lay her eggs. We saw this happen in our story. The arm muscles of the turtle must be very strong to do this because a sea turtle weighs anywhere from 75 pounds all the way up to more than 1,000 pounds. That's a lot heavier than you! How much do you weigh? If you don't know, weigh yourself right now. Then try to be a sea turtle. Lie down on your stomach on the floor with a lot of space in front of you. Put your hands on your shoulders and keep them there. Now see if you can use your bent arms alone to crawl 20 feet forward. Do not use your knees to boost you forward. Don't use your legs to push forward. Try to do it with your arms alone. Is it hard? Sea turtles make this trip carrying much more weight than you do on arms that are sometimes smaller than yours. It takes a sea turtle hours to pull her body to shore. 




Does your student know that their are different types of sea turtles? Their are 7 species of sea turtles in the earth's oceans today. Maybe your student would like to research the various types of sea turtles that exist and compare their similarities and differences? Various breeds include, Leatherback, Flatback, Green, Loggerhead, Olive Ridley, Kemp's Ridley, and Hawksbill. (see coloring pages under extras). The last page of our book tells us that the sea turtles in our story are logger-head turtles.



Most sea turtles eat both animals and vegetation; they are omnivores like us. Sea turtles eat different sea animals and sea plants. Many of them begin life eating small sea animals like jellyfish, shrimp, and fish and when they get older they eat primarily vegetarian. Different species have different diets. Leatherbacks hunt jellyfish in deep waters while Green sea turtles are mainly herbivores or plant eaters. 


Do you know anyone that doesn't have teeth? When people don't have teeth, they get false teeth. We need teeth because we use them to chew the things we eat. Turtles however, get along very well with no teeth. How do you think the turtle eats if it has no teeth? God designed them with a strong beak like mouth. A sea turtle typically has hard ridges along the edges of it's jaw and a powerful bite. The bite of a sea turtle is so powerful that it can cut a lobster in half. In order to eat then, a sea turtle just bites off a piece of it's prey and then swallows the piece whole, no chewing. 



Although sea turtles do spend their entire lives in the ocean the female comes ashore to lay her eggs. Every two to three years, sea turtles return to the beach where they were born. They dig an egg chamber in a moist spot on the beach and lay the eggs in the nest in the sand. Each turtle will lay a clutch of 80 to 120 eggs about the size of a golf ball over a period of several days. She covers the nest with sand. She messes up the sand around the nest and covers her tracks, then returns to the sea. The mother sea turtle will never return to her nest after that. Unlike many other animals, a mother sea turtle does not care for her young. The eggs hatch sometime after 60 days. The hatchlings head for the sea. Most do not make it to the sea because they are killed each year by animals that either eat the eggs or eat the tiny hatchlings when they hatch. Only 1 out of 1,000 will make it to adulthood. An interesting note: Most scientists believe that a mother sea turtle returns to the very same beach upon which she was hatched, to lay her eggs! 



While swimming, a sea turtle must come up for air every few minutes to breathe. It's nostrils are located on the top of its snout to make breathing easier in the water. When at rest, sea turtles can stay under the water for up to five hours without needing to come up for air. Why do you think this is? Did you ever run so hard you began to pant? That was your body's way of getting more oxygen. When you resting however, you need less oxygen. The same is true for sea turtles. 


Do you have an aquarium nearby where you could see sea turtles? If so, take a field trip! 


Science: Shaping of Shorelines by the Sea

In our story Jiro-San and Yuko and Taro sit on large rocks to observe the sea turtles coming to shore. Ask your student if they know how sand is made? Enjoy this experiment together as you discuss how sand is made. 


Rub Away - To demonstrate how rocks change into sand and thin soil. 

Need: writing paper and pencil with eraser. 


Write your name on the paper with the pencil. Rub the eraser back and forth over the writing. The writing is removed and small particles are left on the paper. Why? Graphite is a mineral found in many rocks. Pencil erasers are made of high-friction materials. Pushing this material across the soft graphite markings left by the pencil rubs the particles of graphite and some of the paper off. When wind blows sand particles against rocks, the grinding of the sand against the rock acts like the eraser and removes small pieces of rock. Over a period of time, more and more of the rock is rubbed away, and instead of a solid rock, only sand and thin soil are left. 


Take a look at the illustrations in our story of the shoreline. Does your child know that the land is shaped by abrasion? Try this experiment to demonstrate. 


Shaping of land:

To demonstrate the shaping of the land by abrasion. 

Need- fingernail file and a six sided pencil. 


Rub the file back and forth across the ridges on the pencil. Observe the surface of the pencil. 


The ridge of the pencil is cut down. Why? The file has a rough, grainy surface. Tiny pieces are cut from the pencil as the file moves back and forth across it. Surfaces can be pitted and polished by sand grains carried by wind. The grains of sand act like the file as they strike and cut away surfaces. This type of erosion is called abrasion. 


Have your student find some small rocks and place them around the beach of your salt dough map of Japan. 



Science: Ocean Life-- Sea Horses & Crabs

On the very first page of our story the author mentions that Jiro-San showed Taro how to feed crabs with rotten fish. It also says that Jiro-San trained Taro to sit very still and watch the sea horses swim around. Has your student ever seen a crab or sea horse? 



Crabs are decapods. That means they have ten legs. Crabs are different from other decapods, however, because of their body design. God created these creatures with pancake-flat bodies that have no visible abdomen. You can tell the difference between a female crab and a male crab by looking at the shape of the abdomen. Like lobsters, females have thicker abdomens than males have. God designed a crab's back pair of feet to be paddle shaped like oars to help it move through the water. Have you ever seen a crab walk? They do not move forward as most animals do. Their legs don't bend from front to back, but instead bend from side to side. As a result, a crab walks sideways. Try walking around sideways like a crab for the rest of the day. 


For fun make an egg carton CRAB craft together. 


You will need: 

Egg Carton



Chenille Stems

Acrylic Paint 

Wiggle Eyes 

Paint Brush 


Cut out one circle from your egg carton and paint it whatever color you want your crab to be. When it is dry set it so that the opening is facing up at you. Cut each of your chenille stems in half.  Glue each of your halves onto the inside of the circle and shape them to be crab legs. Glue 4 on each side of your crab and two in the front sticking out below where your crabs eyes will be placed. On the two stems in the front of your crab, shape the ends of the stems to resemble a crabs pinchers. Glue on the eyes of your crab. 


Sea Horses:

Many people find sea horses fascinating. Our story does not show sea horses in the illustration so find some pictures of sea horses online or in a book to show your student. A seahorse is a fish but it isn't shaped like most fish. Seahorses are not only fascinating to look but they are fascinating to learn about too. Seahorses do not lay eggs on the bottom of the ocean like many fish. Instead, the female places her eggs in a special pouch inside the father. She then departs, never to be involved again. The eggs are kept safe inside the father while they hatch and grow. He is the sole parent and even gives them good from his body. When they are ready to venture out into the world, they shoot out from an opening in his pouch, an it looks like the father is actually giving birth. 


Using the clay recipe listed in the art lesson of this unit, have your student create and paint some crabs and sea horses to go on the ocean of his salt dough map. 



Science: Starfish

Look at the first page of our story with your student. Ask him to point out the starfish in the illustrations to you. If he does not know what a starfish is, point it out to him. 


The Starfish is another one of Gods amazing creatures of the ocean. A starfish is a Echinodermata (ee kye' noh der mah tah). It means "spiny skin". If you have ever felt the skin of a starfish you will understand that as it has a rough bumpy texture.  Oriental Trading online has some real starfish that you can purchase for a small price. You might want to get some to have on hand for this lesson. Your student would enjoy touching a real one! A starfish has no eyes, no brain, and tube feet. The tube feet are essentially tubular strands with suction cups on the end. Echinoderms move by using their tube feet to suction onto a surface and then push or pull across it. They can also use them to hold onto a surface. It is through these tube feet that the starfish breathes! Isn't that fascinating! In addition, through the tube feet the starfish takes in oxygen from the water and releases carbon dioxide as waste. The tube feet are also like tongues, tasting everything that they touch which might make a good meal. 


To demonstrate to your student how a starfish uses it's tube feet to cling to secure themselves to rocks and other things in the ocean try this experiment together. 


Holding On:
Need: suction cup, rock 

Wet the suction cup and press it against the rock. Pick the rock up by holding onto the suction cup. 


The suction cup sticks so securely that the rock can be lifted. Why? Pressing the cup against the rock forces the air out of the cup. The water forms a seal around the outside preventing the air from re-entering the cup. The air in the room actually pushes with so much force on the outside of the cup that it is held tightly against the rock. The suction cups on sea anemones work the same way. under the water, the suction cups on the ogranisms are held tightly against rocks by the pressure of the water. 


Have fun making this Starfish craft together. 


Paper Plate Starfish Craft

What you will need: 9 inch paper plates (2  per fish) glue, paint, beads



Print out the following starfish patterns.

Pattern 1

Pattern 2


Cut out the starfish pattern and trace the pattern onto the bottom side of a paper plate and cut it out. (You don't have to use a paper plate; you could just use card stock.) Fold the solid lines on the pattern up and the dotted lines down as shown in the diagram. Glue the folded starfish to a piece of card stock and let dry. Don't press the folded starfish flat against the card stock. When your glue is dry cut out around the legs to finish. Glue on a string or magnet to hang up the fish. Decorate with beads. We used plastic necklace beads and glued  them on so the holes where face up. 


Now have your student create and paint a starfish using the clay recipe in the art lesson in this unit. He can sprinkle his starfish with glitter before his paint dries. Then place his starfish in the ocean on his salt dough map of Japan. 


Science: Dolphins 

Jiro-San and Taro see a school of dolphins swimming in the ocean. Dolphins have a long history of interacting with humans. People love them because they are playful, intelligent, and always seem to be smiling. There are many stories throughout history of dolphins that have saved people's lives. Dolphins swim in pods just like you see them in the illustration of our story. A large pod is called a herd. Did you know that a dolphin can kill a large shark by ramming them over and over again with their pointed beaks and melons! Dolphins are extremely intelligent. They often hunt for their food. Their are more than thirty different species of dolphins and they live in a lot of different places from the deep sea, near the coasts,  and even some in rivers. Dolphins can swim very quickly even though they weigh more than 1,000 pounds. The bottlenose dolphin is the most commonly seen dolphin. It tends to stay near the coast in warmer waters. 


Your older students might enjoy researching the differences between dolphins and porpoises. 


Have your student create a dolphin or pod of dolphins out of the clay recipe in the art lesson in this unit. When he has painted his dolphin(s) have him add it to the ocean area of his salt dough map of Japan. 


Science: Whales

When Taro and Jiro-San go out in Jiro-Sans boat they see a whale and it's calf. Whales are called cetaceans. Their are many different kinds of whales. A Blue whale's tongue weighs more than most cars! Its heart is larger than a Volkswagen Beetle, and its blood vessels are so large that a baby could crawl through them. The Blue Whale is God's largest creature. 


The end of a whale's tail is called a fluke. The whale uses it's fluke to steer when it is moving through the water. It also uses its tail for power when it swims. Compare this to how a fish swims. Whales do not smell very well, if at all, so they really depend on their other senses like seeing and hearing for finding each other and food. Hearing is a whale's most important sense. 


Look at some pictures of whales and ask your student where he thinks the whales nose is? A whale has a nose on top of it's head and it's called a blowhole. When the whale goes under water, it can close its blowhole so water can't get in. When the whale surfaces, it opens its blowhole and exhales. 


Some interesting subjects on whales that your student might enjoy researching and exploring are, beaching of whales, whalers, migration of whales, and types of whales. There are killer whales, toothed whales, beluga whales, narwhals, sperm whales, baleen whales, blue whales, humpback whales, right whales, and gray whales. Have your student research which of these types of whales would be in the waters around Japan. Now ask your student what type of whale he thinks is illustrated in our story?


After researching the various types of whales online and in books have your student create a clay creation of a mother whale and her calf and then place it in the ocean area of your salt dough map of Japan. 


Bible: Fifth Day of Creation

On what day were sea turtles created? The Bible tells us that on the 5th day of creation God created the ocean and animals in it. Read Genesis 1:1-31 with your student. Ask your student to listen as you read for the day that God created the animals in the ocean. 


To reinforce this Bible verse with your student, do the following project. 


Days of Creation Project


You will need: 

7 paper plates 

black paint 

blue paint 

cotton balls 

some leaves 



Small plastic toy fish (can use fish crackers if you do not have a fish toy) 

Two paper dolls, one boy and one girl (you can cut out a boy and girls from a magazine for this) 


Take all 7 of your paper plates and number the backs of them 1-7. Your first paper plate will represent Day 1 of Creation. Draw a line down the middle of your paper plate and let your student paint one side of it black. This represents God creating night and day. Your 2nd paper plate represents Day 2 of creation. Have your child color or paint the paper plate blue and then glue on cotton balls for clouds. Your 3rd paper plate represents day 3 of creation. Have your student glue on the plant leaves to this plate. Your 4th paper plate represents Day 4 of creation. Have your child draw with crayons a sun, moon, and stars on this plate. Your 5th plate represents Day 5 of creation. Have your child glue onto this plate the the small toy fish or a few fish crackers. Then have your child draw a sea turtle and other animals we have learned about in this story onto the plate. Your 6th paper plate represents day 6 of creation. Have your child glue on the paper boy and girl to this plate. Your last paper plate represents Day 7 of creation. Have your child draw a picture of himself in bed sleeping onto this plate or if you have a picture of your child asleep glue the picture onto the plate. 


Once your paper plates are all complete (and you have explained to your child the days of creation and read the verse from Genesis), mix up the paper plates and have your child place them in the right order and then count to see what day the sea turtles were made. 


Language Arts: A Final Lesson


(*Note this lesson is to be done at the end of your time with this book) This lesson is for those students that have created the salt dough map of Japan and clay sea creatures to go on it. Find some little people figures around your home, preferably the Asian people if you have them on hand, and a small toy boat. Place them on your salt dough map and let your student narrate the story back to you using these toys and the clay sea creatures that he has made. He should try to narrate the story back in the same sequence that it was told. When done, he can enjoy playing with his salt dough map and clay creatures. 


For your older student you could do one last lesson by having them research other sea creatures that would be found in the ocean surrounding Japan. They could make more clay replicas of these sea animals to add to their display. 



*Watch Finding Nemo

*Stuffed Paper Sea Turtle Craft


What you will need: Paper, paper glue, scissors, stapler, crayons or markers, fiber fill, poster board or something similar.


What to do:

1. Print out the patterns for a turtle's shell, turtle's head, flippers, tail and belly

2. Cut out the patterns and glue the flippers onto poster board with paper glue and then cut them out again. Use the stomach and tail pattern to trace the outline onto poster board and then cut it out.

3. Color all the body parts.

4. Cut the shell at the back, front and sides where indicated.  Fold the flaps back at the fold lines.  Turn the shell over and staple the darts closed on the solid lines. Carefully turn the shell right side out.

5. Staple the the back and front flippers in place.

6. To assemble the head fold all the flaps back and then place glue on flap A. Glue flap A under flap B. Place glue on flap D and glue under flap C.  Place glue on flap E and glue under flap F. 

7. Fold on the dotted lines so that the two triangles at the bottom are folded up. 

8. Staple the shell onto the stomach starting at the back or tail area. Then staple both sides and fill in all the way around the turtle. Leave the neck area open and stuff with fiber fill.  

9. Staple the head on where indicated and staple the shell to close it up.  

10. To finish fold down the flippers.


Library List

Turtle in the Sea by Jim Arnosky

I live in Tokyo by Mari Takabayashi

Hiromi's Hands by Lynne Barash

Sushi for Kids: A Children's Introduction to Japan's Favorite Food by Kaoru Ono. 

Look What Came from Japan by Miles Harvey

An Illustrated History of Japan by Shigeo Nishimura

World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk.

Pearl Harbor: Ready to Read  by Larry Day 

Oil Spill (A let's read and find out science 2) by Melvin Berger 

Kids Around the World: We Live in Japan by Alexandre Messager

Count Your Way Through Japan by James Haskins

Colors of Japan by Holly Littlefield

The Way We Do It in Japan by Geneva Cobb Iijima

Japan (A to Z) by Jeff Reynolds

Life in Old Japan Coloring Book (Dover Pictorial Archive Series) by John Green

Aiko from Japan Sticker Paper Doll (Dover Little Activity Books) by Yuko Green

Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson (features sea turtles in it) 

Dolphin's First Day: The Story of a Bottlenose Dolphin by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld




*Sea Turtle Craft 

*Here is a picture of a sea turtle that your student might enjoy painting


*Coloring page for a green sea turtle

*Coloring page for a Hawksbill Sea Turtle


*Sea Turtle Dot to Dot


*Draw a Sea Turtle


*Check out this Sea Turtle Matching Game