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terrapin travels


topic area:

diamondback terrapins

grade level:

3rd - 5th


Imagine what life would be like as a diamondback terrapin! Would it be easy to survive or would there be challenges? In this interactive game students pretend to live like terrapins and learn about how human actions and natural forces shape the survival of Maryland's state reptile. This lesson can be paired with a short distance learning presentation from MES' educators and terrapin ambassadors.

lesson details:

This lesson has been adapted for e-learning from a group activity/lesson that turns students into players in a game of terrapin "Life." The lesson was originally designed to occur in a large area such as a gym or open classroom, but has been recreated as a smaller-sized board game in "Prezi." You can find the original, complete lesson plan on page 39 of the Port of Baltimore Environmental Education Guide here. The lesson plan provides definitions of key vocabulary words, a lesson background, and talking points for introducing and concluding the lesson with students.

As modified for e-learning, the lesson includes an activity intro section ("Click Here to Start"), the game, and a wrap-up section ("Click Here to Finish"). The introduction includes information about Poplar Island, where the game is set, about diamondback terrapins as a species, and additional detail on how to play the game. The wrap-up section discusses the positive and negative things that affected the "terrapins" (students) during the game and concludes with ideas about how students can take small steps to help terrapin conservation in Maryland.

The lesson includes a terrapin "brain quest" (activity sheet) as an optional wrap-up or assessment activity. Copies of the student activity sheet and educator answer guide are found with the lesson below.


The intro and wrap-up sections of the activity provide a lot of detail about terrapin habitat and conservation. Because these can be more complex topics, it might be a good option for your class to discuss them together.


One option might be to ask students to focus on one positive and one negative thing that impacted their survival and read those sections thoroughly.

MES educators are also able to assist in leading introductions and wrap-ups, and can provide a virtual show-and-tell with our terrapin ambassadors (juvenile terrapins that normally travel with us as a part of our in-classroom education). Let us know if you'd be interested in having MES assist with the lesson, share the terrapin ambassadors, or provide a terrapin Q & A session.

8.13.2019 TERP Working Meeting at Poplar
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