Inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

7 Kids' Activities Inspired by the Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesMeet our little ninja turtle. As someone who aspires to be a maker when he grows up, he gravitates toward Donatello/ Donnie. He’s been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since 2013, the year he chose to be Donnie for Halloween. That year, I dressed up as April O’Neil–not the yellow jumpsuit wearing news reporter of my own childhood, but the younger version in the animated series of 2012. After all, if there’s ever a time to act like a teenager again, it’s Halloween!

Since we often use his fandom to inspire us, a TMNT-themed set of unschooling activities was inevitable.

For this series, we ended up with almost a complete palette of activities. They are: 1) Make then play with ninja throwing stars, 2) Find real turtles, 3) Perform a Donnie experiment, 4) Draw turtles, mutants, and aliens, 5) Make a Mikey pizza, 6) Set up turtle stunts, and 7) Volunteer to save the world!


Make then Play with Ninja Throwing Stars

red-32  orange-32  brown-32  pink-32  yellow-32

We learned make paper ninja stars from YouTube. Once they were made, we set up plastic cups with points (some positive, some negative) and stacked them in a pyramid as targets. We then spent hours aiming for the cups and tallying up our points.

Find Real Turtles

purple-32  orange-32

turtleAs city dwellers, our best bet for finding turtles are in museums, aquariums, and the zoo. We’ve spotted them at nature preserves, too. It’s always more fun to see them in the wild. This particular turtle is from the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Perform a Donnie Experiment: Make an Oobleck!


Can something behave like a solid and a liquid? Oobleck can. And although your child probably won’t appreciate this term, you will: non-Newtonian fluid. With just cornstarch and water, you can have a lot of fun and a bit of mess.



Draw Turtles, Mutants, and/ or Aliens

pink-32  pink-32 yellow-32
aliensFor drawing aliens and mutants, we turned to our favorite Fantastic Fantasy Comics series of How to Draw books. This particular example is from ZAP! How to Draw Fantastic Sci-Fic Comics by Bryan Baugh. Kids don’t need How To Draw books for drawing aliens and mutants, though. G’s imagined mutants were just as fantastic!

Make a Mikey Pizza

purple-32  blue-32      
Turtles love ninja-ing and… pizza! Michelangelo (Mikey) has the most interesting palette of them all. What you do to your pizza depends on how adventurous you are. Traditional? Go with cheese and pepperoni. Mikey-style? Turn it into a pizza shake, or P-Shake. (No, we didn’t do this).

Setup Turtle Stunts

red-32  pink-32  yellow-32  orange-32

This was incredibly fun. We set up a zipline for our action figure turtles to slide down on. We also sent Donnie parachuting using instructions from

Ziplining #tmnt. #unschool #play #copalette   A video posted by Zarina (Copalette) (@iamcopalette) on

Volunteer to Save the World!

blue-32  orange-32

Finally, what’s a superhero-inspired set of activities without doing our part to save the world? (although G doesn’t want to call the turtles superheroes; they are ninjas!) You don’t need mutagen or ninja training to do this either. In Chicago, the wonderful Honeycomb Project provides us opportunities to volunteer as a family. They have activities for kids as young as five years old. If you don’t have something similar in your area, there are other simple ways to help save the world (e.g. recycling).


purple-32 red-32  orange-32  brown-32  pink-32  yellow-32 blue-32