a large loggerhead sea turtle crawling down the beach towards the ocean

5th Grade Sea Turtle Curriculum

This curriculum was designed in 2014-2016 by Drs. Maia McGuire and Ruth Francis-Floyd with assistance from Dr. Mark Flint and Jaylene Flint. The intent is to have 5th grade teachers in Florida (and elsewhere) integrate these lessons into their regular curriculum. Comments on the curriculum should be sent to Maia McGuire.

The curriculum consists of a book, One in a Thousand: Those Amazing Sea Turtles, with lesson plans to accompany each of the ten chapters. Teachers are free to download the book and either print it (85 pages) or make it available to students electronically (as a pdf file). The book can also be purchased in a printed version from the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore (quantity discounts are available). 

Each lesson contains a vocabulary list for the chapter, which is suggested for use as word wall words.

If you have used the book or any of these lessons, we'd love to get your feedback. Please take a few minutes to fill out a short online evaluation. Thanks!

DescriptionStudents will learn about the biology and ecology of sea turtles; they will learn ways that humans impact and can protect them.

Book: One in a Thousand: Those Amazing Sea Turtles (pdf 8 MB)

Lesson Plans:

Sea Turtle Curriculum overview (pdf 195 KB)

Lesson 1: Sea Turtle Biology.

Lesson 2:  How Do Scientists Identify Turtles?

  • Students will learn about the characteristics of the seven species of sea turtles.
  • Students will design their own dichotomous key to differentiate four different types of coins.
  • Students will use a dichotomous key to identify a sea turtle that is assigned to them.
  • Sea Turtle Lesson 2-How Do Scientists Identify Turtles (3.4 MB pdf)

Lesson 3: Sea Turtle Evolution and Anatomy.

Lesson 4: How Does the Environment Affect Sea Turtle Nests?

Lesson 5: Growing Up as a Sea Turtle.

Lesson 6: How Do Human Activities Affect Sea Turtles?

Lesson 7: Natural Threats to Sea Turtles.

Lesson 8: How Do We Protect Sea Turtles?

Lesson 9: Turtle Tracking.

Lesson 10: Helping Sick or Injured Sea Turtles.

Dr. Maia McGuire is the UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant agent for St Johns and Flagler Counties. Dr. Ruth Francis-Floyd is a UF/IFAS Extension veterinarian. Dr. Mark Flint is a veterinarian specializing in reptiles. Jaylene Flint is a sea turtle research biologist.

The 5th grade sea turtle curriculum was funded by a grant awarded from the Sea Turtle Grants Program. The Sea Turtle Grants Program is funded from proceeds from the sale of the Florida Sea Turtle License Plate. Learn more at

Hatchling loggerhead sea turtle with Sargassum seaweed (credit: NOAA)

Green sea turtle with flipper tag.