Thursday, March 24, 2016

"Where Are All the Frog Mamas?"

The toddlers of Cohort 7 & 9 have been busy exploring a recently emerged interest in frogs, which has become the focus of our group's project work as we head into Spring.  Together, we have explored books with all kinds of pictures, facts, and stories about different kinds of frogs (poisonous frogs! frogs who carry eggs on their backs! frogs who climb trees and frogs who live in the desert!).  In addition to books, we explore art materials with colors and textures that evoke knowledge we are building about frogs and their lives, and connect concepts like water absorption/resistance and viscosity to our exploration of how frog bodies function in similar and dissimilar ways to our own bodies.  

 One of the main focal points of all of this learning has been the unique life cycle of frogs: from eggs, to tadpoles, to frogs, we marvel at how a creature could start out looking so different from what it ends up being.  In learning about the life cycle of a frog, one question the children are repeatedly drawn to is: "Where are the frog mamas?"  We have learned that many frogs lay eggs and don't necessarily stay with them, but move on to other parts of the pond or river where they live. The tadpoles hatch within a couple of weeks, and fend for themselves right away, finding their own food and developing into frogs over the next couple of months.  

We gather before nap to read about frogs and the various noises they make to communicate

This fact has so much to teach us about the unique nature of humans; our tendency to group into families that stay with each other for years and years is special, and not a trait shared by all animals. How does this fact set us apart from other kinds of animals?  What does this tell us about the act of survival and what each of us needs to thrive?  We talk about how long it takes to grow as a human, and how frogs develop so much more quickly, becoming their adult selves in a comparatively very short amount of time.  Reflecting on this, we consider the extensive support that babies, children, teens, and adults need in order to develop.  These systems of support shift as we grow older of course, but it is easy to find examples of how we all give and receive support as families and community members throughout our entire lives.

A spontaneous circle time to explore a new frog book!

As we continue to immerse ourselves in studying and wondering about frogs, we gain a deeper appreciation for the different ways development occurs and families are formed and sustained.  All of our learning about frog life cycles has been coinciding with a deepening interest in dramatic play centering around caring for babies - anticipating pretend babies' needs and explaining what we know about where they are in their development.  All of this work - reading, artwork, and dramatic play - informs the ability to shift perspective, practice empathy, and consider oneself in relation to the surrounding world, made up of so many people, creatures, and places that both resonate with and confuse us as we relate things back to what we know about ourselves.  Stay tuned for where all of this work takes us next!

"Teacher" LT looks over the babies in her classroom.

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