Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Turtle Diary--Learning Website

I'm so glad that I saw this week's Workshop Wednesday would be websites for learning! I recently discovered Turtle Diary. It's such an amazing resource, I can't believe I was unfamiliar with it. Please comment and tell me if you've been using Turtle Diary. I have just started to scratch the surface of everything available on this website, but here's what I know so far.

It is designed for grades PK-5. It has lessons and games for English, Science, and Math. There is a puzzle section (which is off limits in my school.) I think there is even more.

If you register with a school email address you get unlimited access for up to 30 students for free!

You do have to pay to get rid of the ads. I just did a little mini-lesson about the author's purpose for ads, and I told them that no matter how awesome the games in the ads look, they won't be able to play them because the whole purpose of the ad is to get you to pay for something. 

With your teacher membership, you enter your class list, and each student gets a user name and password that you can email to parents right from the site.  Since I teach first grade, user names and passwords is a real hassle. One trick I suggest is giving every child in the class the same password for everything. Turtle Diary allows you to choose passwords, so this works out here. My students have user names and passwords to Reading Eggs and IXL because my school paid for memberships. I went in to both of these sites and changed the password to 'first' for every single kid, I did the same for Turtle Diary. They still need to remember user names, but at least those are based on their names.

You can sort the learning activities by grade, subject, and topic.

This is the first grade English page. I like how it's clearly sorted by skill. For example, they aren't playing 'the pizza game,' they are playing the 'compound word game.'

Most of the skills have a short introductory video clip that teaches the skill and gives examples. The computer reads the focus statement out loud and the text appears as it is read, which is a feature I really like. The video lesson feature makes it easy to differentiate for my class. Some of my high students are ready to learn skills I don't teach whole group. They can watch the Turtle Diary lesson and pick it up on their own. 

The clips could also be used as a supplement to a whole group lesson. I like to structure whole group technology lessons with a student computer operator (one who doesn't know all the answers), and another student directing the computer operator at the big screen with a pointer. (Obviously, I don't have a Smartboard.) This always presents lots of opportunity to teach technology skills I wouldn't have thought to explain, like 'scrolling down.'

 After the quick lesson, the student gets to practice the skill with games. Most of the games that I've seen have progressive levels. In the game below, I really like how the skill gets reinforced. After the student makes a word, it tells the meaning of the word. There doesn't seem to be any way around listening to the information. :)

Prefix/Suffix game
short and long vowel practice

Compound word game
Please let me know--is everyone else already using Turtle Diary? How out of the loop am I? 

If you are looking for other online resources for primary grades, you are welcome to visit my class webpage: I have a page for reading and a page for math with screen shots (so the non-readers can figure out what they're doing.) I love having this webpage to use as a resource. All I have to do to make a computer student-friendly is bookmark my webpage, and they are always working on worthwhile activities.


  1. I have never heard of this site, but I will definitely be checking it out. Thanks so much for the suggestion. You can't beat the name. It just sounds fun!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. I have never heard of this, but it looks really neat!!! Thanks for linking up!
    ideas by jivey
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