Story-time with Erna #3: For Parents and Their Young Children—About Turtles in a Pond

Paying Attention to Detail : Enhancing World Knowledge and Understanding of Concepts.

Today’s narrative is different from the previous two stories as it focuses attention on observations made while watching a pond with turtles. This type of observational narrative encourages children to focus attention on detail. Encouraging children to look more carefully at their environment builds on their world knowledge and understanding. What we see depends on how carefully we look and listen. Careful observation is not only the basis for acquiring knowledge, it is also related to understanding concepts and making sure that we have something to communicate about. Having something to share with another is at the basis of developing communication skills.

Background to the narrative

I have friends whose house is next to a big pond. If you stand in their sunroom, you can see the turtles and fish swim in the pond and sometimes you can even see a snake swim in the water. When I first saw the pond I couldn’t see anything in the pond. However, after a while, when I looked more carefully, I realized you can see a lot! My granny always said if you look too quickly you can’t see anything, however, if you look carefully, you will be surprised at what you see!. Today I am telling you about the turtles that live in my friends’ pond and if you look closely at the pictures, you will see what I saw!

For Parents: In preparation.

Please read through the URLs below before you read the story to your child. The idea is for the parent to read the information by themselves and then translate the relevant information to their child on a level relevant to the child’s understanding. Some of the information might be familiar to some preschool children, but to others this might be new information. We do not want to overwhelm a child with information, rather identify fewer concepts, but ensure that you explain it in a way that is meaningful to the child. The emphasis here is on meaningful interaction to ensure you have a great time with your child. You are also encouraged to come back to these concepts after you have gone through the narrative. If you have a pond nearby, it might also be a good idea to go for a walk to the pond to highlight some of these concepts while experiencing being at the pond.

  • What is a snapping turtle?
    • They have powerful beaks and highly mobile heads and necks
    • They eat small animals, plants and debris in the water.
  • Sediment: They like to hide themselves underwater in sediment. The bottom of a pond is usually sediment of sand and decaying matter.
  • About ponds:
    • Pond water is usually stagnant. Nutrients are brought to the pond by the streams that feed into it, run off during rain, or by the snowmelt off of the surrounding terrain.
  • Hybernation:
    • As fall and winter arrive and the days grow shorter, turtles will begin to slow down. Before long, they may go into hibernation, the dormant state when certain animals “sleep,” with a corresponding drop in body temperature and metabolism. This is their way to pass winter, when foraging is limited and it is more beneficial to save energy.

The Narrative

My Friend’s Pond

This is my friends’ pond. There are up to four turtles in this pond, although sometimes there could be even be more. The turtles from nearby ponds at times come to visit the turtles in this pond. They really love this pond because it is big enough for all of them to swim around.

It also has some deep mud at the bottom which the young turtles love as they can bury themselves in the mud when they feel like it. This is a great life for the turtles. Food gets thrown to them, sometimes in the water, other times in the grass.

Early in the morning the older turtles would watch carefully to see if there is movement in the sunroom. They know if the people have woken up, they will give them some food. Every day at the same time and the same place they will get some food.

The turtles watch carefully for movement in the sunroom, then move to the spot in the pond to wait for the food.

When the food lands on the grass next to the pond, they need to get out and graze for it. They don’t mind getting out of the water to fetch it, because they like the food! Sometimes two of the turtles get out of the water at the same time!

They stretch their long necks, pick up the food with their beaks and slowly get back into the water to eat the food.

Ben and Annie enjoy giving them food. Every morning they wake up and go to the sunroom to see if the turtles are there. These are snapping turtles and the children know they should not go too close to them as these turtles can bite with their beaks. Sometimes the children will throw the food into the water. That makes it easy for the turtles to get to them. However, sometimes, the small fish get to the food first and eat it. Other times, the children throw the food on the grass close by the pond. The turtles then get out of the water to pick up the food in their beaks, and then go back into the pond and disappear in the water. The only sign that the tortoises were there is often a huge brown spot in the pool as the turtles kick up mud as they go under the water. Ben and Annie just love watching how the turtles enjoy themselves in the pond.

The turtles come every year. They stay for the summer and into the fall and then they disappear because they go into their long sleep, or hibernation for the winter.




Here are some questions for you and your child to talk about. The purpose of these questions is not to set up a question-and-answer situation. Rather, to allow you and your child to develop the answers together.

An example:

Why do you think Ben and Annie enjoy watching the turtles? Because, they like turtles, like to get up and see if they can see the turtles in the pond every morning, they like feeding the turtles and see them getting onto the lawn, they like counting how many turtles there are everyday etc.

  • Why do the turtles watch carefully to see if they can see movement in the sunroom?
  • Do you think the turtles enjoy being in the pond? Why?
  • Do you think Ben and Annie ever touch the turtles? Why not?
  • Why is there sometimes a big brown spot in the pool?
  • Why do you think turtles disappear during the winter months?
  • What do the following concepts mean? Sediment;  hibernation
  • What do we know about snapping turtles?

For the next day

  • For further investigation: Do you know what turtles eat?
  • Take a walk to look at a pond with turtles…How are these turtles the same or different from  the turtles in this narrative?

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