On our way out the door yesterday morning, Maddy spotted a small, dark, warty visitor. Maybe the leprechauns dropped him off, or maybe he got lost on his way to our neighbor’s pond.
Whatever the case, finding this little guy gave us a little science-focused research on our otherwise busy day–after Cora’s St. Patty’s Day Walk with a pal, after Maddy and Owen’s school days, and after our own St. Patty’s Day fun.
Figuring out what we had here–frog or toad–made for some fun post-bathtime, pre-bedtime fun.
- Frog or Toad–Easy Science Research: I have to admit, I have always enjoyed the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel, but I haven’t cracked one open for years and years. I probably should, and maybe the ole differences between frogs and toads would be more fresh in my mind.
But I also know a worthwhile, meaningful, and authentic research topic when I see one, so that’s where I thought we’d take our visit from this little guy today.
So while my husband and kids ran around out back after dinner, I Googled ‘frog and toad’ and had some sites ready for Maddy, Owen, and Cora to examine before they hit the sack.
I pulled up the pictures we took of our visitor once I had three clean kiddos in jammies, and I said, Okay, here’s our little guy. Let’s take a good look at him before I show you the pictures I found on the internet. What do you notice about how he looks?
They commented on his three toes, his bumpy skin, and his big, bulging eyes.
I asked how he felt when we touched him, and Owen said, His skin was kind of like dry skin.
Then I said, I just typed in ‘Frog and Toad’ on this search engine, and lots of sites came up that might have answers for us. I pulled up Frogs and Toads site, which has two columns with a black and white drawing of a frog and a toad with characteristics of each underneath.
I read the headings and we were all surprised to learn that “all toads actually are frogs.” I went through the list of frog and toad characteristics with them, and we determined that our guy was, in fact, a toad because his stubby body and short hind legs and “warty and dry skin”.
We checked out a pretty basic toad page from botswanagallery.org that had pictures of toads, and the first photo of an American Toad was a pretty clear match.
Then I typed in ‘American Toad’, and we came upon some sites that really seemed to lock in our decision that we had an American Toad on our hands. The Eastern American Toad, according to Choosing Voluntary Simplicity site, seemed to be a match for our guy. The pictures on this site are great, and the information about the fact that toads like cool spots and hibernate underground in the winter made us wonder if he was sleeping near our front garden for the past few snowy months.
The next thing I knew, we were tired of reading about frogs and then Maddy asked me to search about whether ‘wild animals were friends’ and then, ‘what animals do in the wild’. I typed in her first question, and I realized that another day (and at an earlier time) we’d talk about the best ways to search for information on the web. But she’s little, and she has time for that kind of lesson down the road. . .
I found tons of sites with information on frogs and toads. Here are some that may be of value:
- National Wildlife Federation: (fyi, I LOVE, love this site) Talk about a valid source of information on just about any animal–if you want to identify the wildlife in your neighborhood, they have your answers.
You can print a Wildlife Watch List for your state, which I did, and which I really believe will make our ‘nature walks’ that much more exciting this spring and summer. Check out their article on how to ‘dote’ on toads and how to host a party for our froggy friends.
- SCORE (Schools of California Online Resources for Educators): Tons of information is assembled here for teaching about frogs and toads. I totally plan to revisit this site and use some of what these talented educators have gathered.
- Center for Environmental Education: Also a boatload of information for educators about teaching frogs and toads. If you click on A Thousand Friends of Frogs, you’ll find classroom resources as well.
And that’s it for our big toad research. He was still there today, so we’ll keep an eye on him and make him feel at home in our front garden.
If anyone thinks we made an error here, please let me know! I’m no scientist–I’m just a mom trying to sneak in a little bit of learning each day!