Following on with the theme of running forest school from your own back garden, this May Felix (one of our incredible Poppleton practitioners) brought in a tank of tadpoles they’d fished out of their pond with their little boy. This has helped develop the children’s understanding of nature and learning about how the world around them works by observing the life cycle of the frogs.
From the tiniest wriggly black dots to some (by now) really quite chunky – though still legless – froglets, the preschool and toddler rooms have been talking about the changes they have observed and having fun with frog and tadpole-themed activities.
Our Poppleton Investigators have been having a blast getting messy with ‘frogspawn’ sensory play, made with taste-safe tapioca pearls, using our fingers to paint pictures of frogs and tadpoles, and going out on walks through the fields to see if we can spot any more frogs or toads in the beck behind the nursery (although we have yet to see any frogs, we have spotted a grey heron, some goldfinches, rabbits and even a deer in the fields around us!)
They’ve also been doing some super helping with caring for the tadpoles, assisting with feeding them (guinea pig pellets in the early days and fish food flakes more recently, as per Wildlife Trust guidelines), watching the tank water being changed and saying hello to them every morning at breakfast club!
It’s unfortunate that the children won’t be able to observe and help with the release of the frogs back into the wild when the time comes, as the Wildlife Trust recommends that froglets be released back to their native pond and Felix’s back garden isn’t big enough for everyone at nursery to come and watch! But the experience has been an invaluable addition to their learning and nursery and they have all really enjoyed it.
Those of you familiar with the Early Years Foundation Stage already will know that understanding the world is one of the primary areas of learning, and that grouping is incredibly broad, covering everything from technology and how things work to people and communities, as well as the physical world.
Caring for the tadpoles has given them the opportunity to open up conversations about growth and decay, weather, the environment, food and showing care and concern for living things around them. It’s also been fantastic for practitioners to see how engaged the children have been with the experience and given them lots of inspiration for some fantastic activities.
In case any of you would like to try your hand at rearing froglets next year, BBC Wildlife Magazine has been invaluable for help and advice, and again there are links below for activities practitioners have run at nursery around the topic.
- Pond themed sensory bin: https://www.lifewithmoorebabies.com/2016/03/frog-sensory-bin.html (this uses water beads (orbeez), but for little ones tapioca pearls are taste-safe
- Jumping origami frogs: https://origami.me/jumping-frog/
- Five Speckled Frogs song by Cocomelon: https://youtu.be/VQTVrxj4l6o
- A masterlist of 15 fantastic frog-themed activities for all ages: https://teaching2and3yearolds.com/15-best-preschool-frog-activities/