Turtle Stories

Turtle Stories

Welcome/Opening Activity:

Use whatever you usually use to welcome children to story time.


Title:Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons
Author: Joseph Bruchac
Publisher/Date: Putman Publishing, 1992 & 1997.
Comments: Nicely done stories and poems to explain the full moons in the Abenaki tradition

Title:When Turtle Grew Feathers: A Tale from the Choctaw Nation
Author: Tim Tingle
Publisher/Date: August House Publishing, 2007.

Title:Nanabosho: How the Turtle Got Its Shell
Author: Joseph McLellan
Publisher/Date: Pemmican Publishers, 1994.

Storytelling/Oral History:

A long time ago turtle heard the birds talking about how wonder the world looked to them as they flew through the skies. Turtle was in awe of those birds and asked Creator if he too could fly. Creator told turtle that all had their places and purposes and that there was no need for him to fly. Turtle was not happy with this answer and turtle wished and wished that he could fly.

One day two ravens were talking about how wonderful the world looked. As they were talking they noticed that turtle was very sad and quiet. They spoke to turtle and asked why he was sad. Turtle told them that just one time they would like to see the world from the sky. The birds thought about this and came up with a plan. The excused themselves and went away.

When the birds came back they had a large stick that each one of them held on an end. They went to turtle and told him to grab onto the middle of the stick and they would carry him above the world. Turtle was very excited! The birds told turtle to hang very, very tightly and to not let go for anything.

Turtle grabbed onto the center of the stick and each bird grabbed onto an end. Up they flew into the sky. Turtle was amazed at what he saw and he exclaimed, “Oh, how wonder….fu….llll” For as he exclaimed, he let go of the stick and down, down he went. He landed on his back with a thud.

The birds and other animals gathered around but the turtle was mortally wounded, his shell shattered. Turtle called to Creator and said that it was worth it to die for being able to see all the wonderful things Creator had made. The Creator took pity on turtle and allowed the turtle’s shell to be patched up. Once his shell was patched the turtle had thirteen large plates on his back and twenty-eight plates around the edge. This was so turtle would remember every day of every month that he was alive because he was given a second chance.

And that’s why every turtle in North America has thirteen moons and twenty-eight days as the cycle of a year on his back. Aho!


Find music that goes along with the Native language you have chosen to use for the thirteen moons. If you can’t find the music, find children’s songs about turtles.


Coloring pages:

Use something like this as a template and then cut out a turtle shell for the children to decorate. Paste or glue the body onto an upside down paper plate. Cut out the legs, head and tail out of another color paper and paste onto the turtle body. Each child will have his or her own turtle calendar to take home.

Games/Other Activities:

Learn the names of the moons in a Native Language and add those to the turtle in the appropriate “moon”

Learn how to say, Hello and Thank You in the chosen language.


Use your normal end of story time songs or a traveling song from the chosen Nation.


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