Patterned Sea Turtles

Create your own model sea turtles with patterned shells then arrange them onto an ocean background for a colourful 3D table display. Sea turtles spend most of their lives in water, only leaving to lay their eggs in the sand. They have big front flippers for swimming and smaller back flippers for steering through the water and digging. A group of turtles is called a ‘bale’.

Patterned Sea Turtles

Skill Level

Beginner. Adult supervision needed. Key Stage 1 + Key Stage 2

Time to Make

30 minutes + overnight drying time for clay + drying time for paint

Adult Supervision Needed


How to Make

  1. To make a turtle’s body, break off a 6cm ball of dough, roll it between your hands to make a smooth, round shape. Press the dough into a flat oval shape for the turtle’s shell, making it slightly pointed at one end and about 1cm thick. (To make a smaller-sized turtle, use a 4cm ball).
  2. Press a palm printer into the dough to make a textured pattern. Carefully shape the turtle’s shell into a shallow domed shape by curving it over the base of jar or cup, taking care not to squash the pattern. Leave the dough to dry. After and hour or so, check the dough is staying in a curved shape; if it starts to flatten, pull the edges down over the jar. Leave to dry overnight.
  3. Paint the turtle shell and leave to dry. Add a second contrasting colour using a sponge to highlight the pattern. Leave to dry.
  4. For the turtle’s head and legs, sponge paint onto a palm printer then press it onto coloured card to make a pattern. Leave to dry.
  5. Cut out a head, 4 flippers and a tail from the printed card. Glue them onto the underside of the shell. Add wiggly eyes to the head.
Patterned Sea Turtles Patterned Sea Turtles Patterned Sea Turtles

Top Tip

Start shaping the dough as soon as it comes out of the packet and wrap up any unused material so it doesn't dry out.

Tagged with: