Are you teaching your kids about the frog lifecycle this spring? Do you know how easy it is to observe the life cycle in your very own home or classroom? This simple guide will give you everything you need to know on how to build an observational tank and raise tadpoles to observe the frog lifecycle at close hand.

collage of frog and tadpoles with text reading Learning with Nature in Spring Raising tadpoles

One of the best ways for children to understand how things happen is by experiencing it. This science and nature activity for spring has always been one of my favourites. From doing it as a child on our nature table at home to in my high school science classroom when I taught biology and with my own kids as we homeschool. Children of all ages will love to see the frog eggs (frog spawn hatch) and then transform from tadpoles through to froglets to eventually be returned to the pond where we found them.

So if you are as inspired and want to raise your own tadpoles at home or in your classroom so your children can experience the wonder of the lifecycle of the frog in action.

Watch our video to discover what you will be able to observe following this guide.

Explore the frog lifecycle further with our collection of activities and other ideas to go along with raising frogs from tadpoles.

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.

frog in plants at edge of pond

Once the frogs have been spotted it’s Frog Spawn Watch time.

How to Collect Frog Spawn

frogspawn in pond

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.

kids collecting frog eggs with nets from a pond

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!

preschooler observing frog eggs in a plastic tub

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.

toddler "writing" in a nature journal about the frog spawn

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.

toddler reading a book about frogs in front of a tank holding tadpoles

We use an old fish tank to create an observation habitat for our tadpoles. It also gets used to keep snails and caterpillars at different times of the year so that we can observe more nature.

When the children were younger I added a box of fun frog books to the side so that they could connect literacy with nature as well. You can see our daughter reading through a rhyming book with the tank infront her in the image above.

However, as they have got older we collected together a selection of books about the frog life cycle that start with simple explanations and then much more in-depth ones as they get older.

One of the questions we always get asked but isn’t it difficult to keep them alive! NO keeping the tadpoles alive is easy by following the instructions below.

tadpoles in a jar you can see the gills as they have recently hatched from the frog eggs or spawn.
Photo by Maggy at Red Ted Art
  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
tadpole eating lettuce in a fish tank
Photo by Maggy at Red Ted Art

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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.

As well as our book selections listed above 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.

frog lifecycle story stones

You can of course make your own resources like this we made a set of Frog Life Cycle Story Stones so that our youngest could play and describe the frog story herself.

measuring tadpoles one of the simple activities to do with kids whilst you raise tadpoles
Photo by Maggy at Red Ted Art
  • 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

More Nature Study Ideas for Kids

How to raise tadpoles from eggs
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.


  1. Margaret Spalding says:

    Important to reiterate that once they grow legs they need to eat insects and insect larvae to survive!
    They only algae and cucumbers in the first stage. I know you’ve said this but I think it’s worth repeating that they will eventually starve if they don’t have insects/larvae to eat.

  2. Emma Harrison says:

    Do you need to change the water at any point? We have them in a kilner jar with some pond water & pond weed… a little worried that they seem to have sunk!

    1. Hi, yes the water needs changing ideally with water from the pond where you collected the eggs from this will introduce the water organisms that the tadpoles may feed on as well as keep the water free from chlorine and fluoride common in our home water supplies. Do you mean the eggs have sunk or the tadpoles are on the bottom? The eggs will sink as the tadpoles develop in them and rest on the bottom before they hatch.

  3. Justin Kong says:

    Hi. I have been given some frog spawn. I am in the process of setting up and outdoor tank but I am worried they will die in a frost. How can I avoid this? Indoors isn’t an option. Would a triple layer of bubble wrap be enough insulation, with say 4 layers on the bottom and a plastic lid with holes in?

    It seems like the winter of 2020/21 is never ending.

    1. Hi, with some bubble wrap around the tank it should be fine. The frost should hopefully only affect the surface of the water and still leave water underneath as well. We find that when it gets cold overnight it just delays the emergence as the development slows down.

  4. Amber Remillard says:

    Can frogspawn be broken apart? We currently have three giant, round clumps of it in our pond. I’d like to put some in a tank for the kids to care for but want to leave most of it out in the pond. Any idea if it is a problem to separate a portion from the large clumps?

    1. You will find it will break apart quite easily. I have done this in the past and put a small portion in a tank with no problems

  5. Peter Johnson says:

    If I have the frogspawn in a small tank, do I need to change the water regularly, (or at all)? What about after they grow into tadpoles. Does it need a regular water change?

    1. See my previous comment a 25% water change is good on a semi-regular basis.

  6. Do you boil the cucumber too?

    1. No. I did how break in half so that the softer internal section was easy to access.

  7. Peter Johnson says:

    I’m going to try this for the first time.tomorrow, to stop the local heron eating the frog spawn again!

    Do I need to change the water in the tank regularly, if at all? The tank will be indoors, in a shaded spot.

    1. I changed as it became stagnant especially once the tadpoles were hatched. A 25% water change with water from the pond will work. This also introduces lots of nymphs and water fleas that the tadpoles as they develop will use for food.

  8. We have caught tadpoles the last 3 years
    The newts quickly eat them all
    We go back to the pond for water when we change the tank , as they start getting legs we transfer them into a Rocky tank with plants and gravel little pond water
    Last year we set free 26 little frogs
    This year it’s a little more
    They do love cucumber

  9. This is a great experience which i will be doing with my girls this year,. They have been raised to love wildlife and i love watching them bug hunting in the garden. Fish tank and net at the ready for this one. about feeding tadpoles, any further advice? Can you use fish flakes or is that a real no-no?

    1. Hi Tony – we use lettuce or cucumber to feed the tadpoles but you can buy specialist tadpole food from Amazon I have used this one in the past but not recently as switched back to lettuce and cucumber. With those you must remove any leftover food the next day before adding new.

  10. Just checking – the aquarium doesn’t need to have a pump to circulate/oxygenate the water, does it?

  11. We bought a tadpole a few years ago but it didn’t make it very long. Last year we had Praying Mantis and we have an egg sac collected for this year already. Guess I better write a post about our experiences. I have been meaning to share and your post has inspired me to do so!

  12. This is perfect for my youngest as frogs are spawning in my dad’s pond.Added this to the Brit Mums Spring Carnival.

  13. Oooh I LOVE this activity and SO will my kids (how I love baby frogs). We are so going to try and do this this year!!!
    Thanks for having me on the hangout too. Was great fun.


  14. We collected eggs last spring and even the dogs loved watching the tadpoles. It was a great learning experience for us all, and we released them back into the same pond we got them from afterwards. Thanks for the lovely photos and the reminder of a really fun time!

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