Frogs are one of our favourite animals to observe they are easy to find in ponds and puddles and have an interesting lifecycle. But did you know that you can raise your own tadpoles easily with the kids?
Bringing the frog lifecycle to life before their very eyes.
From the frogspawn hatching to the legs starting to develop and eventually little froglets that you can return to the pond they came from or to a new pond and start a new colony.
And it's so easy to do. We've been doing it as a spring activity with our kids since they were toddlers.
If you want to do it to then here's our guide on how to raise your own tadpoles at home or in the classroom so that your kids can see the lifecycle of the frog in action.
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 don'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.
Once the frogs have been spotted it's Frog Spawn Watch time.
How to Collect Frog Spawn
Collecting the frogspawn 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.
How to Raise Tadpoles
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 rainwater 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 frog books for tots to the side so that they could connect literacy with nature as well.
If you are specifically focusing on the life cycle then check out our fantastic frog life cycle books for kids.
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. Discover in more detail what Tadpoles need to eat at different stages of development plus the recipes for DIY Tadpole Food.
- 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.
Get Your Tadpole Equipment Here
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Your fish tank doesn't need to be anything special these simple tanks without any filters are ideal for keeping the frog spawn and the tadpoles safe in our home or classroom. The handle makes it possible to take them with you to the pond to collect your frog spawn as well as then return to the tadpoles as they develop easily.
Although you can make your own tadpole food you can also purchase frog and tadpole pellets which are ideal for feeding your tadpoles as they develop and you watch them grow.
We are very fortunate to live where you can easily catch frog spawn to conduct this at home life cycle experiment however, that's not always the case instead you can purchase a complete kit to raise your own frog from a tadpole. I like using life cycle kits like this with kids as it gives them a view of biology that they wouldn't normally get.
As well as our book selections I also found it useful to have a model of the frog life cycle that my kids could use to "play" with and it provided a great talking point for discussing the life cycle further. This Safari Ltd Frog Life Cycle kit is ideal for kids to use.
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
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 are some Further Ideas for learning with Nature this Spring
Pinecone 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