Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Terrific Tadpoles

I noticed tadpoles at the farm a couple weeks ago and have been keeping watch. There are HUNDREDS of them, different sizes and colors, unfortunately no big bullfrog ones. 

When we bought the place a year ago this was just a little run off water hole about three foot square. We dug it out with the tractor into a, basically, larger watering hole. It's not even really big enough to be called a pond, though we do, call it that. It's about a third bigger than the picture now. There aren't any fish in there or any other predators, so the tadpoles have a nice little nursery to enjoy.

This weekend I decided it was time to pull a few for the children to observe. Of course, we had just had our first spring torential downpour, so the bank was a muddy mess and I was pretty certain I'd get my wellies sucked off by the mud in this process. But I didn't, just dipped a five gallon bucket in and got a goodly lot of the little wrigglers.
I transfered them to another five gallon bucket with a trashbag liner for the journey over. I didn't seal it, so I just knew I would, for some reason, have to brake hard and spill pond water and tadpoles all over my car. Why was I anticipating these things? Well I have lost shoes in mud before, up to a month before it dried up enough to reach them to chip them out, and I won't even get into why my brother's car smelled like shark for five years, even after a deep cleaning, or rather a few dozen deep cleanings. [It involved shutting down an interstate highway for a while. Because of us. It's a good story.]

But we made the trip with no issues. [WHEW!]

The first thing B asked when she walked in? "What's in there?" 
"A surprise."
"What's the surprise?"
"We'll find out later when all your friends are here."
"What's in there?"
"Hmmm, I don't think I remember. What do YOU think is in there?"
"I don't know."
After breakfast, I opened up the bag on the floor and it was dark in the bucket. Every once in a while a shadow of a shape would flit across the top. They weren't REALLY sure they even saw it, but it greatly increased their curiosity and observation. Then we poured it into the container. 
"Yes it is! SEE!! FISHES!!!!!"
All eyes on me.
"Then what is it?"
"They are tadpoles. Do you know what a tadpole is?"
All heads shake no.
"Baby frogs."
"Really? WOW!"
Major discussions followed about frogs and toads and life cycles and food chains and metamorphosis. A big word for little children. Then we counted, or rather tried to count, the tadpoles. I believe there are ten.

Note that I did ask that they not touch the icky water and I sanitized the edges of the container in case they grabbed it. While the water shouldn't be horrid, I wasn't willing to risk any contamination from ecoli or some other bacteria. The children also washed their hands thoroughly after having the container down and accessible. After that it was placed up where they can observe the bottom at eye level, but can't reach the top of the container or get at the water in any way. All surfaces were, as usual, sanitized with bleach water, even more thoroughly where any pond water may have splashed or spilled.



Tags: tadpoles, pond, pond theme, pond unit, frog, frogs, toad, toads, amphibians, science, toddler, preschool, childcare, daycare, pre-k, kindergarten, prek, life cycle, food chain

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