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How the Turtle Flew South for the Winter
an Oneida legend
retold by Priscilla Dessart

One day while Turtle was walking, he noticed some birds flying overhead. He yelled to them, "Where are you going?"

Two birds flew down and answered, "We're flying south for the winter."

"What is in the south?" Turtle asked.

"Don't you know anything?" the birds said. "In the south there is a lot of food and it is nice and warm."

"That sounds wonderful," Turtle said. "May I go with you?"

"No way. You can't fly," replied the birds.

Turtle kept pestering them until they finally agreed.

"But, if you come with us," they told Turtle, "you must hang on to a stick and not let go until we get there."

"That won't be a problem," Turtle said. "Once I bite something, I won't let go until I want to."

So the two birds grasped each end of a stick with their feet. Turtle bit tightly onto the middle of the stick and hung on.

At first Turtle enjoyed his ride, but then he began to feel anxious. He wanted to know how far they had traveled, so he tried to get the birds attention by mumbling, but the birds pretended not to hear Turtle. Soon they were really high and Turtle was getting worried. He worried about whether the birds knew where they were going and when they would get there. He wiggled his legs to get the birds' attention, but they ignored him.

Unfortunately, Turtle's curiosity got the best of him, and he opened his mouth to ask, "Are we there yet?" But the birds didn't hear his question for he was falling quickly to the earth. As he fell, he tucked himself into his shell. When Turtle hit the ground, he got up unhurt and buried himself in the mud.

That is why Turtle goes underground during the cold winter months.


How the Turtle Flew South for the Winter
Word Problems

Join: Result Unknown
To get the birds' attention, Turtle wiggled his tail ___ times. Then he wiggled it ___ more times.
How many times did Turtle wiggle his tail?
(4, 5) (12, 22) (36, 47)

Separate: Result Unknown
There were ___ bugs on a log. Turtle ate ___ of them. How many bugs didn't he eat?
(8, 5) (24, 12) (53, 27)

Part Part Whole: Whole Unknown
Turtle has ___ long sticks and ___ short sticks. How many sticks does Turtle have altogether?
(3, 7) (14, 25) (39, 48)

Compare: Differences Unknown
Turtle has ___ berries. The bird has ___ berries. How many more berries does the bird have than Turtle?
(4, 9) (23, 35) (49, 67)

Turtle saw ___ flocks of birds. There were ___ birds in each flock. How many birds did Turtle see altogether?
(3, 4) (7, 5) (4, 12)

Measurement Division
Turtle gave ___ fish to some friends. Each friend got ___ fish. How many friends got fish?
(9, 3) (24, 6) (66, 11)

Partitive Division
Turtle gave berries to ___ of his friends. Each friend got the same number of berries.
Altogether, he gave away ___ berries. How many berries did each friend get?
(3, 6) (3, 18) (3, 33)

Join: Change Unknown
Turtle counted ___ autumn leaves floating on the water. Some more leaves settled onto the water.
Then there were ___floating leaves. How many new leaves fell onto the water?
(5, 9) (14, 26) (53, 72)

Separate: Change Unknown
There were ___ turtles on a log. Some slipped into the water and swam away.
Then there were ___ turtles on the log. How many turtles swam away?
(7, 3) (19, 14) (25, 16)

Part Part Whole: Part Unknown
Turtle saw ___ birds. ___ of them were blue and the rest were yellow. How many yellow birds did Turtle see?
(8, 3) (17, 6) (32, 18)

Compare: Quantity Unknown
Maple and birch leaves were floating on the water. There were ___ maple leaves. There were ___ fewer
birch leaves than maple. How many birch leaves were floating on the water?
(11, 6) (25, 13) (52, 28)

Two Step Problem
___ bullfrogs, ___ leopard frogs, ___ snapping turtles, ___ paint turtles, and ___ leather back turtles burrowed into the river mud to sleep during the long winter. How many more frogs than turtles burrowed into the river mud?
(4, 6, 3, 2, 3) (15, 16, 11, 8, 10) (26, 38, 24, 14, 22)

Encourage students to write and solve their own word problems and to share their problems with classmates.