Frog life cycle

On a recent visit to the Horniman Museum's aquarium, my 3 year old spent a long time playing with a touch-screen version of a frog's life cycle. I suspect it was the allure of the touch screen which initially drew him in, but he did learn about the stages of the frog's life when I explained to him what the 'game' was about.  He was very proud of being able to correctly complete the 'game' without errors when we went back to it after looking at everything else in the aquarium.

Frog in the aquarium

We had a good look at the frogs in the aquarium, and he could see some in the water and some sitting by the pond. I realised that he'd never really seen one before, although they feature in lots of books and songs for small children.  We also looked at the brightly coloured poison frogs from the Amazon rainforest which he really liked, I think in part because they were easy to spot. 

I wanted to do something at home to build on his interest in the frog life cycle and consolidate what he'd learnt. I decided to make some wooden counters with pictures of the different stages of the frog life cycle. I wanted something that will last and be played with by him and his little brother, and I had visions of beautiful wooden slices.  The reality is that they are laser-cut slices of MDF I found cheaply (made with wood fibre, but not exactly slices of wood with tree rings that he could count) and I drew the pictures with a permanent pen!

Not quite the pretty setup I'd hoped for, but it worked!

I wasn't sure if my dubious art skills and monochrome pictures would be recognisable, but the small boy spotted them piled up and asked to look at them. He spread them out and asked me what they were for. He often asks questions he knows the answer to, so I asked him to guess and he said that it was a a frog life cycle! I had intended to draw round the circles on paper and put arrows to show the cycle so he could place the counters on top, but he found them before I'd done it. Instead, I grabbed the nearest circular object (a blue lid from a box the smallest one had been playing with) and laid it on a low table.

Completed life cycle

I asked him if he could put the counters in order. He started with the frogspawn, just like at the aquarium. He had no trouble with ordering the tadpole and the stages where the frog grows legs, but he wasn't sure about the juvenile and adult frog. I'm not surprised as they are pretty bad attempts at drawing the frog from our touch-and-feel version of Dear Zoo (by Rod Campbell), just slightly different sizes!

He was really quite enthusiastic about the little pictures, and kept telling me about each stage in turn, going round in repeated circles (making the link between the starting point of the frogspawn and them being laid by an adult frog) and has asked to play with it several times since. This worked surprisingly well for something that wasn't finished and didn't look like I originally imagined!