Toad BOOK LOOK #7: More Activities + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)


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The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Karen’s P.L.A.Y.ful preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity suggestions.

P.L.A.Y.ful preview (short):

Toad Tales for the Young and Young at Heart

Singing at the Smiling Pool Playground

Old Mr. Toad’s Odd Tongue

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: Read this lively story of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures with his friends and illustrate each chapter with your one-of-a-kind super special drawings.
  • Super Challenge: Using the black and white photos in this P.L.A.Y. book and color photos on this website see if you can discover Old Mr. Toad and his tadpoles and toadlets outdoors near to where you live in late spring and throughout the summer. Remember – toads lay egg strands and frogs lay egg clusters!
  • Super-Duper Challenge: Visit Pinterest to see videos of the Toads in action HERE.

Share the smiles by emailing or snail mailing your original drawings of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures to Karen at P.L.A.Y. and perhaps you’ll see them posted up on P.L.A.Y. to pass the fun forward!

Capkins LOVE to be read nature stories AND to P.L.A.Y. outdoors.

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These TOAD-ally awesome books are a highly recommended way to extend your P.L.A.Y. adventures.

This picture book, The Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler, compliments The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated) by providing color photographs and great factual details about the daily changes of the life cycle of a toad.

Mary Holland‘s book Naturally Curious Day-By-Day is a fabulous resource to have on hand if you live in New England or are simply curious about the flora & fauna in the Northeast USA.

Pages 36, 55-57, 73, 118, 159, and 196 specifically share great information about TOADS.

If you’d like to compare toads and frogs then this is a fun (with some facts) frog fairy tale chapter book titled The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli. This story is an excellent read aloud with a few characters to add in funny voices if you like. Enjoyable for the whole family!

TOAD Pinterest Board HERE 

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Toad BOOK LOOK #4: Story Activities + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)


 ~ ~ ~ BOOK LOOK ~ ~ ~

The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book 

by Karen L. Willard

Join Peter Rabbit and friends on adventures discovering all about Old Mr. Toad and his days spent in and out of the water!

See sample story pages + purchase HERE

More Tadpoles + Toads in motion at PINTEREST HERE.

Karen’s P.L.A.Y.ful preview & P.L.A.Y.-filled activity  suggestions for The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated).

P.L.A.Y.ful preview (short):

Nature Noticing: Shiny Egg Strands, Tadpoles, and Toadlets!

P.L.A.Y.filled Potential & Possibilities

P.L.A.Y.-filled companion activity adventure suggestions (long):

  • Challenge: After reading this story take a walk in nature with your family and retell the story of how Old Mr. Toad changes his clothes. Can you spot some places where he might be hiding to do this? Or where he hides for his long winter’s “nap”? Your curious Capkin would like to know!
  • Super Challenge: After reading this story create your own new set of fun adventures for Old Mr. Toad and his friends from the places you have visited outdoors with your family. Adding “silly” to your stories is Super-Duper-Okey-Dokey as long as you base it on what you originally observed! The original author of The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, Thornton Burgess, combined true nature happenings with a bit of funny as he wrote about his animal characters daily lives.

Share the smiles by emailing your new original silly stories of Old Mr. Toad’s adventures to and perhaps you’ll see them posted on P.L.A.Y. to pass the fun forward (with your permission)!

Capkins LOVE to be read nature stories AND to P.L.A.Y. outdoors.

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These TOAD-ally awesome books are a highly recommended way to extend your P.L.A.Y. adventures.

Plain and simple A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer & Anne Wilsdorf is a rhyming picture book just made for P.L.A.Y. with laughter built right in!

Naturally Curious Month-By-Month is another must have resource from Mary Holland with even more toads and oodles of other flora & fauna information!

Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study is an excellent classic resource with content and questions covering all the flora & fauna in New England including: Tadpoles to Toad (p.170-177), Spring Peepers (p.177-180), and Frogs (p.180-187).

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Toad BOOK LOOK #1: The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)+ video


Karen, creator of P.L.A.Y., reads Chapter 1 on Pinterest HERE.

Edge of a local Smiling Pool like Old Mr. Toad’s – one lone tadpole is almost a toadlet!


The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated): A P.L.A.Y. Nature Activity Story Book by Karen L. Willard purchase HERE.

Author Insight:

My love of children’s literature and being out in nature all came creatively together when I chanced upon the 100+ year old Thornton Burgess books with so many of his stories written in New England nature settings. The animal characters have their adventures throughout the Green Forest in plenty of familiar places like: Peter Rabbit with his home in the Old Briar-patch, Jenny Wren building a nest in the Old Orchard, and Old Mr. Toad visiting the Smiling Pool created by the nearby Laughing Brook. These nature scenes are found throughout the area I live in too and I visit these magical peaceful places daily to immerse in a “sense of wonder” and to make creative connections.

If you’d like to visit spaces like these in nature I’ve got great news, simply follow these two steps:

  1. Step out your door and get to know your surrounding nature spots – be it in your own backyard, neighborhood, local community, bordering towns, or beyond. There are so many hidden wonders to explore and adventures to be had throughout the seasons. Set aside some special P.L.A.Y. time routinely to connect with nature and and be sure to bring your curious Capkin along too!
  2. Try a copy of this nature story activity book for inspiration and to ignite your naturally creative imagination. Once you read this story you might just find you and your family more eager to get out and explore all the magical spaces in “your neck-of-the-woods”.

More Author Insights:

I have started re-writing many books in the Thornton Burgess nature series as they are now available for use in the public domain beginning with The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad, The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver, and (now FREE online only) The Burgess Bird Book for Children.

I have updated these stories for the 21st century family by keeping the same old nature settings and some of the same story line and giving the characters a new opportunity to model compassionate communication and loving kindness throughout their adventures. 

I have also provided bonus materials to interact with the book:

  • Nature photos taken here in New England
  • Spaces for the reader to illustrate each chapter as they creatively see it
  • Curious question prompts for conversations with friends and family
  • Resources online and book suggestions to continue the nature explorations

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Gifting these books to a kiddo in your life, a family in your neighborhood, or simply finding a way to pass P.L.A.Y. forward helps keep the nature connection alive and well.

THANKS for sharing and caring!!!

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Barn Cat Beware – P.L.A.Y. in Practice

See a sweet “Barn Cat Beware”  video on Pinterest HERE!

P.L.A.Y. – Passionate Learning All Year is a daily practice we can put into place while engaging with nature and especially when making connections with animals (and humans!). We have this opportunity often at our home in a farming community.

This outdoor barn cat, Mitzi, very much likes to be around humans when it is on her terms.

When she first arrived we had to place this “don’t pet” sign at our front door so that all visiting humans knew to look and not touch even though she looks so furry and friendly and even acts as if she’d like to be petted.

Her owner, my daughter, has been able to make great strides in gaining her trust and is now able to pick her up and give great purring cuddles. However this relationship is only with her owner at this time and the rest of us continue to work on earning her trust, learning what works for her, and approaching with respect.

Mitzi has become a much loved addition to the farm atmosphere here at our home and does well at keeping the rodents out of the barn and with out a doubt provides another opportunity for us to engage in P.L.A.Y. daily.

May you and your family also be finding plenty of P.L.A.Y. in Place adventures!

Beaver BOOK LOOK 1 (+videos) : The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated) by Karen L. Willard

Join this P.L.A.Y. story adventure by purchasing HERE!

The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated):

A P.L.A.Y. Nature Story Activity Book

by Karen L. Willard

Learn all about amazing beaver behaviors in this P.L.A.Y.-filled nature story activity book based on the Thornton Burgess animal adventure series.

Bonus P.L.A.Y. Beaver VIDEO Series

– Watch these on PINTEREST  

Video 1 (click here)

From Chapter 15 see Old Man Coyote’s footprint in the mud near Paddy’s home.

Coyote footprint in the mud by the river’s edge.

Video 2 (click here)

Quaking Aspen trees, Paddy’s favorite food, going – going – gone just like in Chapter 14!

Quaking Aspen still standing near the river’s edge . . . for now.

Visit these P.L.A.Y. video pins on PINTEREST to see updates of actual local beaver activity similar to Paddy’s adventures and stay tuned for many more in this series.

This P.L.A.Y. guide book provides hours of entertainment as a read aloud to share with the whole family, a community group, in a classroom, or to simply curl up with solo.

The BONUS P.L.A.Y. guide pages include opportunities to:

  • illustrate each chapter
  • photos shared of real beaver activity
  • tree themed and blank nature journaling pages
  • recommended resources and so much more

  Compliment your purchase of this P.L.A.Y. guide with these other great beaver reads found at your local library.

Beaver Kits by Ruth Owen

This is a sweet and simple full color photo introduction book to all the basics about beavers.

Find out what beavers eat, where they live, and what they like to build.

Written with the young reader in mind and a part of the Wild Baby Animals series.

Beaversprite: My Years Building an Animal Sanctuary

by Dorothy Richards

This book was published in 1977 to share Dorothy’s 40+ years of experience raising beavers at her home to help restore the near extinct population of beavers in the state of New York.

Dorothy does a wonderful job of retelling of her adventures, especially through the eyes of someone who became a life learner and advocate of the beavers having had no experience with these animals prior to receiving her first pair in the 1930’s.

This book is highly recommended and is appropriate for an independent reader or to share sections as a read aloud for the whole family.

Join the P.L.A.Y. adventures and share them with family and friends!

Purchase your P.L.A.Y. nature story books and adventure guides HERE.

Seasonal Gifts That Keep on Giving!

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New P.L.A.Y. title available  <HERE>!

The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver (Annotated) by Karen L. Willard

This new nature activity story book will provide hours of read aloud or independent reading enjoyment for kids and adults alike as you discover all about the habits of beavers in a New England setting wrapped in a fun-filled adventure spanning one year and all four seasons.

Rediscover this 100+ year old story and characters by Thornton Burgess in this new updated edition with language for the 21st century family modeling loving kindness and opportunities for the woodland characters to practice mindfulness as they go about their days.

From building his home and storing foods to engaging with new friends in the Green Forest and leaving a tail trail in the winter snow Paddy the Beaver has plenty of adventures just waiting to be shared with you.

 * BONUS *

  • Each chapter has illustration boxes to be completed by the reader.
  • Curious Questions and P.L.A.Y. Photos provide opportunities for family discussions and further playful investigations.
  • Tree themed coloring and nature journaling pages to share your creative view of the natural world.
  • Recommended Resources suggesting both picture and chapter books for your P.L.A.Y. adventures.

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Time to get ready to P.L.A.Y. throughout the WINTER season!

<Purchase Here>

This is a P.L.A.Y.-filled nature guide, with open-ended activities and a fun alliteration twist, encouraging kids and families to explore and connect to the great outdoors daily throughout the winter season.

Each of the 90+ pages provides a new adventure prompt for play-and-seek in nature and a place to capture the memories of these magical moments by drawing, writing, and creatively expressing yourself in this book.

The matching daily blog pages found on this website provide support and inspiration for your seasonal outings including stories about the very curious Capkins who add charm and creativity to every opportunity taken to walk in wonder.

This book is designed specifically for the months of December, January, and February with access to ice and snow recommended.

Visiting a field or forest, a meadow or mountain, a brook or your own backyard with this book you are provided the opportunity to get curious, embrace the simple gift of spending time outdoors, and to foster a daily habit of P.L.A.Y. and connection with your own true nature.

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Potluck P.L.A.Y. – Curiosity & Simple Sumac

Purchase HereP.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books

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Time to share a bit of curiosity and my own recent series of outdoor P.L.A.Y. moments involving experimenting with Staghorn Sumac (not poison sumac) that grows quite well up in our neck of the woods.

Staghorn Sumac in late September

I had heard that it could make a great glass of lemonade if you are so inclined and provided you have plenty of sugar on hand to off-set the tartness.

And I knew that the goaties absolutely loved the leaves as I had shared some stalks of it (with permission from their mama – aka my daughter) in August.

Goaties eager to help eating the sumac leaves.

However what I soon discovered, when I went to retrieve the stalks to clean up their pen space, was that the goats also loved nibbling the bark (like deer) and munching on the red berry cones found on the top of some of the sumac sticks.

This got me to thinking . . . spoiler alert . . . about to commence P.L.A.Y.!

BTW- Cats are curious however they are not interested in experimenting in eating this “fluff stuff” (staghorn sumac berries)

What if I harvested some of the sumac trees that were beginning to encroach upon our house and also beginning to block the view for one of our neighbors AND made use of the entire harvest?

After doing some research here’s how my P.L.A.Y. nature experiment looks to date:

  • Harvest the sumac and feed to our goats and our community members goats so that they may strip the leaves and bark off of the wood.
  • Pre-clip the staghorn cone of red berries and place in dehydrator for 24 hours to store as an excellent source of crunchy Vitamin C and other nutrients that is great for all the goats over the winter when fresh forage is scarce for them.
  • Once the goats have stripped the wood set it aside under cover to dry and be used in future community bonfires at our new fire pit as kindling or logs (depending on size).
  • Be sure to take only what can be used this year and save plenty for the local wildlife that also make use of the sumac berries to make it through the winter such as birds and squirrels.

What excellent P.L.A.Y. partners – so very helpful!

To see the video of these cuties in action visit PINTEREST (HERE).

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What curiosities did you find in your P.L.A.Y. today? 🙂

Draw, write, color, and creatively capture your discoveries

on the pages of your Nature Adventure book!