|1996-1997 National Teacher Training Institute
Master Teacher: Judy Handley, Beaver Meadow School, Concord, NH
Subject: Science, Mathematics
Grades : P, E
Series: Up Close and Natural Episode 5: Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders
Focus for Viewing
Are all frogs green? Do toads give you warts? Frog and Toad Are Friends, but they are not the same. The study of amphibians and reptiles is called herpetology. In this lesson, students will become young herpetologists and will use a 30-minute video lesson to learn about the characteristics of frogs and toads. Then, in the spirit of Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, the young herpetologists will transform themselves into frogs and participate in a Jumping Frog Jubilee. Students will work in groups of three to measure, record, and find the average jumping length of each "frog." They will graph the data and analyze it to see if they can find any correlations between variables such as height of the jumpers and the average length of the jump. Students who have access to a computer with a spreadsheet program will be encouraged to use the spreadsheet to graph and analyze the data. The Frog Jumping Jubilee should take about 30 minutes, making this a 60-minute lesson in all.
Students will be able to:
- list the major characteristics of amphibians.
- describe the characteristics of a toad and of a frog.
- compare and contrast the physical characteristics of frogs and toads.
- accurately measure and record the length of student "frog jumps."
- make graphs using measurement data.
- analyze graph data to search for correlations between variables (i.e., height of jumper) and the length of jumps.
- chart paper for brainstorming sessions
For each student:
- worksheet 1--Frog and Toad Are Different Fact Sheet
- worksheet 2--Frog Jump Measurement
- worksheet 3--Frog Jump Graph
- cardboard clipboard and 2 jumbo paper clips
- ticket for the Frog Jump Jubilee marked with an A, B, or C
- worksheet 4--Job Chart for the Jubilee
Explain to students that they will be watching a video about frogs and toads. Ask them what they already know about the two amphibians and record their answers on chart paper. List facts about frogs in one column labeled Frogs and facts about toads in the other column labeled Toads. Some facts about frogs and toads that you will want to try to elicit from students in this brainstorming session are that both are amphibians and both develop in eggs in the water and start out as tadpoles. Frogs are smooth, moist-skinned, leaping amphibians. Toads are squat, warty, hopping amphibians. Frogs live most of their life in the water (aquatic), although some live on land in burrows or in trees. Toads live most of their life on land (terrestrial). Frogs have long hind legs with webbed feet. Toads have much shorter legs and do not have webbed feet. True frogs, members of the family Ranidae, range in length from less than 2.5 centimeters (one inch) to 30 centimeters (12 inches). True toads, members of the family Bufo, range in size from 2 to 25 centimeters (1 to 10 inches). Although toads have a bad reputation for giving people warts, they do not. They do have poison-secreting glands on the back and in the warts, but mostly concentrated in the two prominent raised bumps behind the eyes. Frogs and toads, as well as all amphibians, are vertebrates.
Once the brainstorming session is complete, tell the story of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain. Tell them that there is a Jumping Frog Jubilee held at the Calaveras Country Fair in Angels Camp, California, each May and that after viewing the video, they will be having a Jumping Frog Jubilee. Before anyone can participate in the Jubilee, however, they must make sure they know the differences between a frog and a toad. This Jubilee will be for frogs only and all participants will have to submit a correctly filled-out fact sheet to be eligible for the jump.
Distribute to each student a pencil and the fact sheet (worksheet 1) attached to a cardboard clipboard and explain that during the video lesson you will be pausing to let them fill out the fact sheet. The process will be watch, stop, discuss, and then mark answers.
Focus for Viewing
Explain to the students that scientists who study amphibians and reptiles are called herpetologists. Herpetologists have to spend a lot of time watching and waiting to learn more about these animals. Today, the students in the classroom will become young herpetologists and watch a video to learn more about two specific amphibians--frog and toad. Have the scientists look at the fact sheet (worksheet 1) and go over the fast facts on amphibians at the top of the sheet. Explain to them that they will have to watch the video to get the answers to the questions about frogs and toads.
Read the first chapter, "Spring," in Arnold Lobel's book, Frog and Toad Are Friends. Have the students describe the differences in the character of the two friends. One is an eternal optimist and the other very much a pessimist. Draw the correlation between identifying personality characteristics and identifying physical characteristics. We have to use careful observation techniques to find the subtle differences. That is what the young herpetologists must do in this video. To give students a responsibility for viewing, tell them that by the end of the video lesson, they should be able to list at least four differences between a frog and a toad.
Start video near the beginning of the program when Louise, the program host, reaches down into a bucket and pulls out a frog. She says, "This is a bullfrog."
Pause video when Louise says, "What do you notice about him?" Ask students to list the physical characteristics that they can see. Write these on a piece of chart paper with FROG written at the top. Ask students to check the characteristics that they notice against those that Louise will list in the next video segment. They can give themselves a silent thumbs up when their characteristics match those that Louise lists. To give the students an additional responsibility for viewing the next segment, ask them to listen for the piece of information that will tell them why the bullfrog is different from all other frogs in the United States.
Resume video. Louise will say, "Green. Yes, his color is green."
Pause video when the picture changes from a close shot of the bullfrog back to Louise sitting on the porch of the Nature Hut. She says, "The bullfrog is the biggest frog in the United States." Ask students if they know why the bullfrog is different from all other frogs in the United States. If they don't know, rewind the tape to replay Louise's last statement and then pause to explain that it is because the bullfrog is the biggest frog in the U. S. It is also green, and not all frogs are green, but since there are other green frogs that was not the information you were seeking. In the next segment, the students have the responsibility of finding out to what group of animals frogs belong.
Resume video. Louise will say, "Bullfrogs and all frogs belong to the group of animals called amphibians."
Stop video just after Louise says, "The word amphibian means having a double life." First ask the students to respond to your focus question, "To what group of animals do frogs belong?" In addition, ask them if they can list two additional animals belonging to this group--salamanders and toads. Continue by asking them what they think Louise meant when she said that amphibian means having a double life. After giving students a chance to respond, tell them to watch and find out if they were right.
Resume video. Louise will say, "An amphibian has a double life because it spends part of its time on land and part of its life in the water."
Pause video when Louise walks into the Nature Hut just after she has said, "And it's also true that an amphibian doesn't have any hair, fur, feathers, or scales." Discuss what the double life of an amphibian means and then continue to list the characteristics of an amphibian on chart paper. Students should be able to recall that an amphibian: (1) lays eggs in the water, and (2) spends the early part of its life in the water. During the larval stage amphibians breathe through gills, but during the adult stage they breathe through lungs. Tell students that during the next segment they will learn about the egg masses of amphibians. To give them a responsibility for viewing, tell them that if they listen very carefully they will discover the difference between the egg mass of a frog and that of a toad. They will also learn that the young frog or toad is called a tadpole. What is the first sign that a tadpole won't be a tadpole much longer? Tell them to watch and listen to find out.
Resume video. Louise will be saying, "It's hard to believe that the bullfrog we just saw was once a tiny black dot surrounded by jelly."
Pause video just after Louise says, "What happens to a tadpole's tail? Does it drop off?" First ask students to respond to the focus question, "What is the first sign that a tadpole won't be a tadpole much longer?" Then go on to have them predict what happens to a tadpole's tail. Tell them to listen now to Louise's explanation and see if their predictions were correct.
Resume video. When the video starts, Louise will say, "Well, it's not easy to explain."
Pause video after Louise says, "Let's go down near the pond and see what a toad looks like. Okay?" Go back and check on the answer to the focus question, "What happens to a tadpole's tail?" Explain that they will now learn about some of the characteristics of the toad.
Resume video. There will be a close shot of a toad and Louise will say, "What do we have here?"
Pause video just after Louise says, "Toads live most of their lives on land, so they do not have webbed feet." What are some of the characteristics of a toad? Have students look at the Frog and Toad Are Different Fact Sheet and read and mark the answers together. In the last video segment, tell students that they will discover that frogs can jump farther than toads. To give the students a responsibility for viewing, tell them to find out why.
Resume video as Louise says, "But many animals that live in or near the water do have webbed feet."
Stop video when the you see Louise blowing on a party favor that acts like a frog's tongue. This is just after she says, "It sits and waits until an insect goes by its nose, and then quick as a wink, the frog's sticky tongue flips out and catches it just like this . . ."
During the post-viewing jump, you will want students in groups of three. Before the lesson begins, you can mark the Fact Sheets (worksheet 1) with a code so that students will be able to find group members (i.e., three sheets with the number 1, three more with a number 2, and so on would work or any method you would like to use to group them).
Review with the students some of the main points of the video lesson. To what group of animals do frogs, toads, and salamanders belong?--amphibians. Where do amphibians lay their eggs?--in water. What are young frogs and toads are called?--tadpoles. Like fish, what do tadpoles breathe through?--gills. What do adult frogs and toads breathe through?--lungs. Many amphibians have what kind of feet?--webbed. What do frogs have that allow them to jump farther than toads?--longer hind legs.
At this point, have the students find their research group by looking for two other children with the same number on their Frog and Toad Are Different Fact Sheet. First have the three-some check their answers on the fact sheet and then turn them in to get their entry tickets for the Jumping Frog Jubilee. Go over the Job Chart and Directions (worksheet 4) for the Jubilee. Teams of three will jump, measure, and record their distances on three jumps per "frog." See Worksheet 4 for detailed directions. When each jump length has been recorded, the team is to add up the total of the three jumps for each team member and record the total on the Measurement Sheet. Teams then try to find the average length of jump for each jumper. Students can use unifix cubes (one unifix cube for each inch) to help in the addition or division processes. Gather the teams back together to discuss their findings. Show them how to graph their results. Students will then graph the results and compare them to the heights of the jumpers. Are there any correlations? Ask them what other variables might affect the length of a jump. If a computer with a spreadsheet program is available, enter and graph the data. Use the graphs to analyze the data.
If there is a university near your school, invite a graduate student studying herpetology to come into the classroom and explain the techniques they use for field research. If there is no university, find out if there is a local naturalist who could explain his or her research techniques.
Contact your state Environmental Services Department. Arrange for a speaker to come to the classroom from the Water Resources Division.
Contact your local Audubon Society or a local conservation or science center. Check to see if they have any outreach programs about wetland habitats.
Look in the Yellow Pages under Environmental, Conservation, and Ecological Organizations to arrange speakers or tours of facilities stressing the importance of keeping our waters clean.
Frog and Toad Flip Book Fold three sheets of unlined paper in half the long way and fold one piece of construction paper in the same manner to make a cover. Make a book and staple on the fold. Make a cut from the bottom edge of the booklet to within a half inch of the center fold. Draw a frog on one side of the front cover and a toad on the other side. On each of the succeeding pages, students should draw a frog or frog characteristic on the frog side and a toad on the other side showing the difference. For instance, students can draw an egg mass on the frog side and a string of toad eggs on the toad side. Smooth skin can be shown on the frog side and bumpy, warty skin on the toad side.
Making a Mini-Pond at School (see Appendix A)
Mapping the Pond
The purpose of this activity is to help students to learn about the habitats of plants and animals that live in, on, under, around, and above the pond. Students are given a cross-section map with the five areas of the pond listed: surface, open water, bottom, water's edge (above ground and underground), and the air above. Students then research and draw plants and animals in the correct locations on their maps. They will discover that some animals live in more than one area. Each child can do a map or it can be a class mural.
If it is available to you, you can use the ESS (Elementary Science Study) module entitled Pond Water: A Close Look at the Life in a Pond. The basic idea is to allow students to observe pond life firsthand by visiting a pond and then to bring samples of the water back to the classroom (a 5-gallon bucket half full of water works well) for observation. If you use a pond grappler to dredge the water's edge and include some of the "muck" gathered, you will probably end up with a lot of small pond life in the water sample. A group of four children can be given a wide-mouthed pint jar that is about half-full of pond water. If each sample has duckweed floating on top it is more interesting for the children. The jars can have lids to prevent spilling. Allow the water in the jars to sit for a short time to let the animal life settle. When the lids are removed, the observations are sometimes quite dramatic. Some jars will have water fleas, some will have water skaters if you are really lucky. Most will have some critters crawling around. If you have microscopes or magnifying glasses, you can let the children observe even more closely. Have the students record their observations and then make sure to return the pond life and pond water to their natural habitat.
The Nature Loom
Visit a pond to study the habitat of a frog. Reeds and cattail stems can be collected and used in a nature loom when returning to the classroom. Other common plants and plant parts found around the pond should also be gathered. Caution the children not to pick living things. Only a few of the dead plants should be removed. Take the reeds and hang them from a branch or a chart stand. Students weave reeds in the opposite direction (horizontally) to make a mat. The plant parts, leaves, acorns, sticks, dried algae, and other natural items can be placed in between the woven reeds.
On My Pond (see Appendix B)
This song was written for Kermit the Frog and can be used to foster global stewardship.
Language Arts and Art:
Read Linnea in Monet's Garden and discuss Monet's fascination with drawing the same view of his pond in Giverney, France, over and over at different times of the day. Explain that he was an impressionistic artist and was trying to record on canvas the subtle differences caused by the varying degrees of light. Let students do experimental sponge painting with shades of green, blue, pink, and purple paint. The resulting art paper can be used as a backing for a final copy of a writing project about the pond.
Making a Mini-Pond at School
It is easy and inexpensive to make your mini-pond at school so that observations can continue throughout the school year. The mini-pond can be as small as a dish pan or as large as a wadding pool. If you want to keep goldfish in the outdoor pond throughout the winter, one part of the pond will have to about three feet deep so that the fish will not freeze in the ice. This water depth can be hazardous with young children, so permission from school officials and safety precautions would have to be taken. With a water hole the size of a dish pan there is very little safety hazard and permissions is easier to gain.
If you decide to use a dish pan, waddling pool, or wash tub, you dig the hole, place the container with burlap that is then tucked around and under the rim of the container. The other option is to line a hole in the ground with black plastic. Tetre makes pond liners, but they are very expensive. Black plastic (4 mil or thicker) can be doubled and serves very nicely for at least a year. Constant exposure to the sun causes it to get brittle and it will have to be replaced. This is cheap and a new class can reline the pond each fall. If the black plastic gets a hole in it, the pond can be emptied and the hole or holes can be covered with two-inch wide fiber packing tape. The pond can be immediately refilled and this tape will hold for months under the water level.
If you line a hole with black plastic you can vary the depth of the pond from six inches to three feet. Pond plants can be grown in pots in this pond. Lilies and cattails both grow nicely. Water weed or elodea can be bought at aquarium shops and will also grow in the pond. Pond life will abound and you will have a natural home for your young frogs that have developed in the classroom. Not all of them will survive in this mini-pond, but a few will survive in the spring and by late summer or the beginning of a new school year large frogs are usually still at home in the mini-pond.
Note: These mini-ponds will need water replenishment as the water evaporates. Tap water can be used as long as no more than one-fifth of the water is replaced at one time.
Berenzy, Alix. A Frog Prince . New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1989.
Bjork, Christina. Linnea in Monet's Garden . New York: Raben & Sjogren Publishers, 1985.
Cole, Joanna. A Frog's Body . New York: William Morrow and Company, 1980.
Cox, Nonie. Animals from Eggs . Monteray, CA: Evan-Moor Corp., 1993.
Johnson, Ginny and Judy Cutchins. Slippery Babies: Young Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders. New York: Morrow Junior Books, 1991.
Gibbons, Gail. Frogs. New York: Holiday House, 1993.
Fleming, Denise. In the Small, Small Pond. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1993.
Kalan, Robert. Jump, Frog, Jump . New York: Scholastic Inc., 1981.
Kato, JoAnne. Frogs and Toads: Thematic Unit. Cypress, CA: Creative Teaching Press, Inc., 1991.
Lobel, Arnold. Days with Frog and Toad . New York: Scholastic Inc., 1979.
Frog and Toad All Year. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1976.
Frog and Toad Are Friends. New York: Scholastic Inc., 1970.
Parker, Nancy Winslow and Joan Richards Wright. Frogs, Toads, Lizards, and Salamanders. New York: Greenwillow Books, 1990.
Parker, Steve. Eyewitness Books: Pond & River. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
Scieszka, Jon. The Frog Prince Continued . New York: Viking, 1991.
Souza, Dorothy M. Frogs, Frogs, Everywhere. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, Inc., 1995.
Starosta, Paul. The Frog . Watertown, MA: Charles bridge Publishing, 1996.
Stone, Lynn M. A New True Book: Pond Life. Chicago: Childrens Press, 1983.
Additional Video Resources
Up Close and Natural Episode 12 The Pond
Animals and How They Live Episode 3 Desert Toad, Episode 6 Frogs
NatureWorks Episode 4 Natural Communication
Freshwater Wetlands Episode 1 Lakes, Ponds, and Pools
Frogs and Toads
This site from Enchanted Learning features frog and toad rhymes, crafts, quizzes, and printouts for grades K-3.
This site from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Program is designed for kids and teachers and features frog field guides, games, frog sounds, and other frog information and activities.
Learn about frogs, listen to frog calls, or print out a frog coloring sheet at this site from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Frogs: A Chorus of Colors
This site from the American Museum of Natural History explores frogs found all around the world.
101 Things You Can Do to Save Animal Habitats
From the Oregon Zoo, a list of actions students can take to help animals and their habitats.
Explore the Fantastic Forest
Take a virtual hike through the forest and discover the life that lives there at this site from National Geographic. Note : For the best viewing experience, you'll need ShockWave and Quicktime.
NH Framework Correlations
1a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will use problem-solving strategies to investigate and understand increasingly complex mathematical content.
1b. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will use mathematical reasoning
2a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will communicate their understanding of mathematics.
2b. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will recognize, develop, and explore mathematical connections
3a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will develop number sense and an understanding of our numeration system.
3b. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will compute.
4b. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will develop spatial sense.
4c. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will develop an understanding of measurement and systems of measurement through experiences which enable them to use a variety of techniques, tools, and units of measurement to describe and analyze quantifiable phenomena.
5a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will use data analysis, statistics and probability to analyze given situations and outcomes of experiments.
6a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will recognize patterns and describe and represent relations and functions with tables, graphs, equations and rules, and analyze how a change in one element results in a change in another.
7a. K-12 Broad Goal: Students will be able to use concepts about mathematical change in analyzing patterns, graphs, and applied situations.
1a. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing understanding of how the scientific enterprise operates.
2a. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to use measuring instruments to gather accurate and/or precise information.
2b. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to use technology to observe nature.
2f. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to understand that progress in science and technology is controlled by societal attitudes and beliefs.
3a. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to recognize patterns and products of evolution, including genetic variation, specialization, adaptation, and natural selection.
3b. Curriculum Standard: Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to understand how environmental factors affect all living systems (i.e., individuals, community, biome, the biosphere) as well as species to species interaction.
Note: Worksheets are in Adobe PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to access them.