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Toadstones, Snake Gods, and Divining Turtles

This part of the lesson, focusing on the rich history that people share with herps, reveals the mixed feelings people have always had toward reptiles and amphibians.


  • Describe some ways herps have been viewed throughout history.



  • Social studies, art


1. Give the students time to read through the information provided under Herps in History (Reptiles y Anfibios en la Historia).
2. Discuss the facts presented using the background information under Our View of Herps-Present and Past.
3. Have the students choose one or more of the facts to illustrate.
4. Use the drawings to create a bulletin board or other display.

Extend the Activity!

Tell the students to imagine that they live during the time presented by the fact or facts they illustrated. Then have them write a journal entry portraying a day in their lives, incorporating the appropriate herp fact. For example, they could imagine themselves as a doctor using snakes to treat patients in ancient Greece, a druid in need of an adder stone, or a soldier during the American Revolution carrying a flag bearing the rattlesnake symbol of the 13 colonies. If necessary, give them time to do a little research on the time period so they can write a more accurate journal entry.

Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies