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Can my kids get even more excited! – Well yes, they can and it’s not about the normal things it’s because we heard the first croak when out in the garden and you know what that means – Frogs, Frog Spawn and Tadpoles.
It’s time for us to go frog crazy again and start raising our own tadpoles. It’s something that I did as a child, we used to head to either our pond and watch for the frog spawn to appear or even more exciting head over to the common ground with our bucket and net and collect some frog spawn from the ditches that drained the farm land. And now it’s something that I do every year with my own kids – since they were toddlers.
When we live in a world where children are less and less connected with the world around them – screens are taking over the non-school days simple ideas like this that doesn’t cost anything and they can see biology in action is a fantastic way to engage them with nature and experience changing seasons as well as care for an animal for a short period of time.
Spotting Frogs and Toads
Our first sign everywhere is the croaking that we hear usually on a warm sunny day as the frogs come out of their hiding places from winter hibernation – we made sure that we have a safe place for them to hibernate near the pond a couple of years ago with our Log Pile Home inspired by the book the Gruffalo.
I’ll be sharing about our Nature Pond later this year as we will be updating it in the autumn once all of the tadpoles are frog age and the plants are dying back but we don’t have fish in it and it’s very shallow – adult wellington boot height in the deepest section but with gentle sloping sides even a “bog garden” to one end.
Once the frogs have been spotted it’s Frog Spawn Watch time.
Collecting Frog Spawn
Collecting the frog spawn is really easy but we are very careful to stress the safety aspects of it with the kids – Lay down on the ground with the net or plastic tub and make sure that we collect lots of the pond water as well.
Did you know in the UK it’s easy to tell the difference between Frog and Toad Spawn as well? – Frog Spawn in clumps whereas Toad’s lay in strings!
Once we have the spawn in a plastic tub I get the kids to write a little about the frog spawn that they see – we started doing this when my eldest was an older toddler and he would draw the frogspawn and then evolved it to more of a nature journal as he got older.
One of the most important aspects is to remember that chlorinated water can kill the tadpoles so if you need to change the water then use water from the pond you collected them from or use rain water that you can collect easily this time of the year.
We use a fish tank for our tadpoles the same one every year – it also gets used to keep snails and caterpillars at different times of the year. And it then sits on our table so that we can observe what is going on. When the children were younger I added a box of relevant books to the side so that they could connect literacy with nature as well. This year – I’m not sure what I will be doing but there will be some element of books near the tank.
Keeping the tadpoles alive is easy by following the instructions below.
- Keep the frog spawn in the container in the shade away from direct heat but protected from frosts – in the UK we still can have some frosts well in May – you can of course have it in your home if you wish – do not put a lid on the container
- Watching the tadpoles develop in the eggs is great – if you have older children you could get them to record what they see as the process of going from a dot like in the image above to a tadpole look alike is fairly quick in the eggs.
- When the tadpoles hatch you need to give them some food they LOVE lettuce and cucumber and the best way to serve it to them is boil the lettuce for 10 – 15 mins to break down the cell structure, then add the this to an ice cube tray (only a little) and some pond water and freeze then add a block to the water and the tadpoles will eat them.
- You can then watch the tadpoles develop their legs – this is a good time to release them back into the pond before they become fully formed frogs as they are less likely to jump out.
- You can return them at this stage to the pond where you found them – or if you wish you can start to form your own colony in your back garden pond by releasing them to your own pond.
Ideas to link learning
- Measuring the tadpoles as they grow and recording the measurements to produce a graph over time
- Nature journaling with a timeline of development
- Comparing tadpoles raised inside with tadpoles in natural environment or in an outside tank – extend by recording the temperature of the water as well
Follow our Learning with Nature Pinterest Board for More Ideas
Learning with Nature – Tadpoles, Bugs, Crafts and Nature Walks
Click on the video to hear us talk about raising tadpoles, handling bugs even when you really don’t like them, ideas for crafts and nature walks.
Ideas from our Archives for Learning with Nature
DIY Nature Study Kit for Kids – ideal for year-round nature study
Build a Log Pile House in your garden
Explore the strandline any time of the year to find creatures and treasures that have been washed up
Here’s some Further Ideas for learning with Nature this Spring
Pine cone Fairies by Red Ted Art
Stick Man by Red Ted Art
Chestnut Spiders Webs by Red Ted Art
Night Time Cricket Hunt by Iowa Farmers Wife