Jonathan the tortoise

Did you know that the oldest land animal in the world is reported to be a giant tortoise called Jonathan? He was hatched in 1832 and lives on the island of St Helena, part of BGO. How amazing! Get creative with Freya’s help and make your own model of Jonathan. 

If you want to see the real Jonathan the tortoise head to the St Helena challenge badge on BGO Extra page and watch the  video about St Helena by adventurer Sally Kettle here

jonathanthe tortoise

What You'll Need

Tortoise template 



Thin green foam (goma eva) or green card (big enough for the template)

An empty 1.5 litre circular water bottle

A needle

Some thread

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  1. Cut out the template. Draw around the template on top of the foam or card. (photo 1)
  2. Using adult help cut off the bottom of the bottle (about 6cm-8cm from the bottom) and place it on top of the tortoise. (photo 2)
  3. Keep the bottle still. Use a pencil to make small holes on the foam or card where the bottle indents are (this may vary according to the type of bottle). 
  4. Thread the needle and make a knot in the end.
  5. Push the needle from underneath the tortoise to come through one of the holes. (photo 3)
  6. Take the thread over the bottle and down through another hole on the opposite side. (photo 4)
  7. Underneath the tortoise bring the thread up through the next hole. (photo 5)
  8. Continue to fasten the bottle bottom to the body by threading back and forth over the indents of the bottle, until you have covered all indents. (photos 6 & 7)
  9. The underneath of the tortoise should look like photo 8. 
  10. Tie off the thread when complete and you could also decorate your tortoise.



    You could cut a coin slot in the bottle and use it as a money bank (photo 9).

    Fill it with little stones or beans and make a musical instrument

    Why not try making a tortoise using modelling clay and painting the following week.

    Or you could have fun with papier-mâché, making and decorating a tortoise. 

    Find out more about St Helena and watch Sally Kettle’s video which you can find in BGO Extra Fun. 

Leaders: For more information on Jonathan and St Helena, take a look at ‘Girlguiding St Helena – Celebrating 100 years’. You can download this resource, to use with your unit, by going to ‘BGO Extra Fun’ on the website.