“What is that?” questioned one of my students.
In an instant, more students were crowded around my desk, staring at a shallow dish filled with slimy globs. Whatever could it be?
“Frog eggs!” exclaimed one nature lover eagerly.
“That’s right,” I affirmed. “You may touch them.” Eagerly some hands dived in and picked up the mass of hundreds of clear frog eggs with tiny black dots in the center. Others gingerly touched the top and exclaimed, “Eew!” And yet they couldn’t stay away.
After everyone had touched them and discussed them, we carefully carried the dish of eggs out behind the schoolhouse and set it on the ground at the edge of the woods. How long would it take them to hatch? What kind of frogs would they be?
That night it became quite cold. When the students arrived the next morning, they hurried to the little “pool.” There was ice on top! Some raced into the schoolhouse. “The frog eggs are frozen!” they exclaimed, their voices dripping with disappointment.
“That’s okay,” I assured them. “Just leave them alone, and don’t break the ice.”
That day the sun came out, and soon there was no ice covering the eggs. All seemed well.
That Sunday I hiked back to the swampy pond where I had collected the eggs. Lots of egg masses were still there, and on top of them wiggled tiny slivers of black. Were the ones at school hatching too?
Sure enough, when I arrived at school on Monday, our tiny pool was full of wiggling tadpoles. By the end of the week, they had changed from tiny slivers to fat bodies with wiggling tails.
Now what should we feed them? I put in plants and roots from swampy areas, and also swamp or pond water. They seemed to thrive and grow as the students watched eagerly.
Soon our little pool was quite full. I decided to release all but a few tadpoles. I wished the students could observe them changing into frogs, but school ended, and they were still fat little tadpoles.
About two months later their back legs began growing, and they looked rather pop-eyed. They became very hyper when I put in fresh pond water. Their tiny mouths would open wide as they nibbled along a blade of grass. I also discovered they got excited about bread crumbs. They’d flip on their backs and skim the surface with their mouths opening and closing, gathering tiny bits.
A week or two later I noticed one of them had front legs. Their tails were becoming shorter, and their posture was more frog-like.
The next day when I caught the biggest one, he tried to hop away. His tail got noticeably shorter throughout the day. His legs were striped, and he had black on his face. He looked as if he might be a wood frog. I put a rock into the dish so he could hop onto it if he wished. The tadpoles all liked to hide under the rock where they could barely be seen.
Early the next morning I stepped outside to check on them. Where was the one with four legs? He must have hopped away during the night! I decided to release the rest into the swamp so they could finish their metamorphosis there. When I lowered the bucket into the swamp, they eagerly flipped their tails and took off.
What an interesting peek into nature.