The Itty, Bitty, Tadpole Hatched From an Egg . . .
It is that time of year again! Time to turn our classroom into an amphibian delivery ward! I love spring's arrival. It signifies a time of change, a time of growth. As I read with the kids or listen to them talk and problem solve together, I am aware of how much they have grown and changed over the previous season. For some of us, who have been together for multiple years, the growth is amazing and I think about what lies ahead of them as they hop out into the world.
Amphibians are amazing creatures! They go through complete metamorphosis, which means the change entirely. Their clear eggs make them just amazing to observe and captivate children's interest. Amphibians start moving around with the first warm rains of spring and then it is crunch time if you want to see this miraculous event with your own eyes. Watching frog eggs develop and hatch is one of my favorite topics to explore with children. They are so enthralled by the process and the relatively rapid growth of the wood frog keeps their attention. Between now and the last week of school, these little frogs will develop into froglets with legs, and a shortened tail and will begin breathing air. It is such perfect timing!
Finding frog eggs can be a tricky proposition if you're not acutely aware of the weather. The week before school vacation we did get a little rain - but there was still a lot of snow and ice was covering many of the ponds and vernal pools. I started seeing reports of amphibians on the move in the southern part of the state, but I was fairly certain that they were not moving in our neighborhoods. However, the weather was moderating, and my family was preparing to leave on vacation. I worried that by the time we returned... we might miss the perfect window for capturing eggs for the classroom. My fears were heightened one morning when a little, dark haired, boy informed me, that he and his family had gone for a walk and they had seen lots of salamanders and even some that were wrestling! Oh my, it was definitely time to start looking for eggs!
We returned home from our vacation late Sunday, and with mounds of work to do before school Monday morning, egg gathering had to be postponed, but as soon as dinner was cleared Monday night, Elle and I headed to the frog pond with Mason Jar in hand. We are becoming pros at this egg collecting. We knew right where to go for the quickest and best results! Elle and I have been visiting this spot since she was four. As we went out to the pond this time, I reminised about how long it used to take us to get out there, and how now she was on her bike out of sight. . . leaving me in the dust! How quickly things change. Just like our frog eggs!
The dirt road eventually gives way to a path in the woods. Elle parked her bike and we hiked in the short distance to the pond. As we approached, the pond was very quiet. However, as soon as we started breaking through the brush on the ponds edge, a chorus of frogs began to sing, warning each other of our presence.
Initially, all we saw were hatched tadpoles. . . but after a little surveying, we located a few clumps of eggs. . . However, we quickly realized that in our haste to get out of the house, we forgot a net! Luckily the eggs were not too far off shore and I was able to reach them with just one wet sneaker!
On our way back, we stumbled upon a vernal pool. The eggs in the pool were a different size and color. Perhaps these are salamander eggs or a different kind of frog? Only time will tell. We filled a second Mason Jar with these eggs.
I put the eggs out this morning for the children to observe. By late afternoon some of the eggs collected from the pond were starting to hatch! The children also observed that along with eggs taken from the vernal pool tons of mosquito larva hitched a ride. There are no mosquito larva in the pond water. How interesting, and speaks to the mosquitoes and standing water.
We will have these visitors in our classroom from now until the end of the year when we return them to their natural habitat. Be sure to ask your children about them, and even ask them to show you them when you drop off or pick up! Citizen Scientist in the making!