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Get the Turtle to the Pond

  • Lesson
Location: Unknown

This activity provides opportunities for creative problem solving while encouraging young students to estimate length and angle measure. Using the Turtle Pond Applet, students enter a sequence of commands to help the turtle get to the pond. Children can write their own solutions using LOGO commands and input them into the computer. The turtle will then move and leave a trail or path according to the instructions given.

Begin the lesson by reviewing the following directional words:


Place students in pairs. Give one student a piece of blank drawing paper. He or she will follow the directions given by the other student.

The other student may give directions such as the following:

  1. Draw a turtle (or other picture) in the middle of your paper.
  2. Move the turtle forward (up) 3 inches (or any similar measurement your students are familiar with.)
  3. Make a right turn.
  4. Move the turtle forward 3 inches.
  5. Make a right turn.
  6. Move the turtle forward 3 inches.
  7. Make a right turn.
  8. Move the turtle forward 3 inches.

In the example just given, students should notice that their turtle lands at the starting point.

Within each pair, students should take turns giving and following directions for their turtles.

Next, project the Turtle Pond Applet for the students.

appicon  Turtle Pond Applet  

Show students Path 1, as demonstrated on the applet.

In pairs, students can explore Path 2, as demonstrated on the applet.

Students can try out either path by checking the box and pressing "draw". To erase a path, press "clear". To create a new path, adjust the length by using the blue sliders and then press he "forward", "back", or "turn" buttons.

In an activity like the one described above, once children have found paths to the pond, they can share their programs with other students. Discussing their programs and the turtle paths with other students helps children reflect on their own method of solving the problem and on the relationships between distance and turtle movement and angle and turtle movement.


  • Copyright Notice: Applet generously provided by: L. O. Cannon, James Dorward, E. Robert Heal, Richard Wellman (Utah State University, The USU MATTI project is supported by the National Science Foundation (Award #9819107). Copyright 1999.



Questions for Students 

1. How far does your turtle travel to get to the pond?

[Student responses will depend upon the paths they created.]

2. Can you find a shorter path to the pond?

[Student responses will depend upon the paths they created.]

3. How long is the shortest path to the pond?

[Students should be able to identify the shortest path to the pond.]
Teacher Reflection
  • Think about possible student solutions. What might students try and why?
  • What can students learn while working on the task of getting the turtle to the pond?
  • What questions might you ask the students to help them reflect on what they have learned?
  • What can you learn about your students' understanding of distance and angles?
  • How might you reframe the task to promote further learning?

Making Rectangles

In this activity, students use their knowledge of number, measurement and geometry to plan the steps necessary for a ladybug to draw rectangles of different sizes. As they experiment, students begin to understand the relationship between the shape of a rectangle and the lengths of its sides. They also develop a sense of the amount of turn in a right angle.

Making Triangles

In this activity, students use 45- and 90-degree angles to create triangles, and develop an understanding of the relationship between angles and the shape of triangle. Students use their knowledge of number, measurement and geometry to design a "virtual path" using two different angles to help a ladybug reach its hiding place under a leaf. 

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Use directional words, such as right, left, forward, and back, to create and explore paths
  • Create a path using an applet
  • Compare their paths with other students and determine the shortest path to a destination

NCTM Standards and Expectations

  • Describe, name, and interpret direction and distance in navigating space and apply ideas about direction and distance.
  • Find and name locations with simple relationships such as "near to" and in coordinate systems such as maps.
  • Relate ideas in geometry to ideas in number and measurement.
  • Understand how to measure using nonstandard and standard units.
  • Develop common referents for measures to make comparisons and estimates.

Common Core State Standards – Mathematics

-Kindergarten, Geometry

  • CCSS.Math.Content.K.G.A.1
    Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.