Toad BOOK LOOK #6: Tons of Tadpoles + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

” A Curious Capkin caught in the middle of tons of tadpoles! “

These toad tadpoles are between 2-3 weeks old now and are very active at the river’s edge.

To see them in action visit PINTEREST video HERE.

Tadpoles gathering in large busy clusters at the river’s edge as the water level recedes a bit from lack of rain storms.


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

Skyscape Simplicity #43: A Meditative Moment


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

< Breathe In >

< Breathe Out >

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

Summer #7 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A July treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

” Beautiful Bejeweled Bug”

Bonus Blue Hues

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures 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!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 30 – Thrasher + Mockingbird


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 30 – Jenny Wren’s Cousins


Peter Rabbit never will forget his surprise when Jenny Wren asked him one spring morning if he had seen anything of her big cousin. Peter hesitated. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t think of any big cousin of Jenny Wren. All the cousins he knew anything about were very nearly Jenny’s own size.

“Have you seen anything of my big cousin? It is high time for him to be here,” declared Jenny.

“To be quite honest, I don’t know him,” replied Peter.

“Oh yes you do, I mean Brownie the Thrasher!” boomed Jenny.

In his surprise Peter fairly jumped right off the ground. “What’s that?” he exclaimed. “Since when was Brownie the Thrasher related to the Wren family?”

“Ever since there have been any Wrens and Thrashers,” proclaimed Jenny. “Brownie belongs to one branch of the family and I belong to another, and that makes him my second cousin.”

“And here I have always supposed he belonged to the Thrush family,” Peter uttered. “He certainly looks like a Thrush.”

“Looking like one doesn’t make him one though,” observed Jenny. “And so do you know if he has he arrived yet?”

“Yes,” said Peter. “I saw him only yesterday on the edge of the Old Pasture. He was fussing around in the bushes and on the ground and jerking that long tail of his up and down and side wise as if he couldn’t decide what to do with it. I’ve never seen anybody twitch their tail
around the way he does.”

Jenny Wren giggled. “That’s just like him,” said she. “It is because he thrashes his tail around so much that he is called a Thrasher. And I suppose he was wearing his new spring suit.”


Thrasher by Louis Agassiz Fuertes


“Well, I don’t know whether it was a new suit or not, however it was good looking,” replied Peter. “I just love that beautiful reddish-brown of his back, wings and tail, and it certainly does set off his white and buff waistcoat with those dark streaks and spots. You must admit, Jenny Wren, that any one seeing him dressed so much like the Thrushes is to be excused for thinking him a Thrush.”

“I suppose so,” admitted Jenny. “However, none of the Thrushes have such a bright brown coat. Did you notice what a long bill he has?”

Peter nodded. “And I noticed that he had two white bars on each wing,” he said.

“Did you hear him sing?” asked Jenny.

“Did I hear him sing? Oh yes!” cried Peter, his eyes shining at the memory. “He sang especially for me. He flew up to the top of a tree, tipped his head back and sang as few birds I know of can sing. He has a wonderful voice. And when he’s singing he acts as if he enjoyed it himself and knows what a good singer he is. I noticed that long tail of his hung straight down the same way Mr. Wren’s does when he sings.”

“Yes,” agreed Jenny. “That is a family trait and the tails of both my other big cousins do the same thing.”

“What’s that? Have you got more big cousins?” cried Peter in disbelief.

“Certainly,” reassured Jenny. “Mocker the Mockingbird and Kitty the Catbird belong to Brownie’s family, so they are my second cousins.”

Such a funny expression as there was on Peter’s face. He felt that Jenny Wren was telling the truth, and yet it was surprising news to him and so hard to believe that for a few minutes he couldn’t find his tongue to ask another question. Finally he ventured to ask, “Does Brownie imitate the songs of other birds the way Mocker and Kitty do?”

Jenny Wren shook her head. “No,” she said. “He’s perfectly satisfied with his own song.” Before she could add anything further the clear whistle of Glory the Cardinal sounded from a tree just a little way off. Instantly Peter forgot all about Jenny Wren’s relatives and scampered over to that tree. You see Glory is so beautiful that Peter never loses a chance to see him.

As Peter sat staring up into the tree, trying to get a glimpse of Glory’s beautiful red coat, the clear, sweet whistle sounded once more. It drew Peter’s eyes to one of the upper branches, and instead of the brilliant red coat of Glory the Cardinal he saw a bird about the size of Welcome Robin dressed in ashy-gray with two white bars on his wings, and white feathers on the outer edges of his tail. He was very trim and neat and his tail hung straight down after the manner of Brownie’s when he was singing. It was a long tail, although not as long as Brownie’s. Even as Peter blinked and stared in surprise the stranger opened his mouth and from it came Glory’s own beautiful whistle. Then the stranger looked down at Peter, and his eyes twinkled with mischief.

“Fooled you that time, didn’t I, Peter?” he chuckled. “You thought you were going to see Glory the Cardinal.”


Mockingbirds are attracted to fruit trees.


Then without waiting for Peter to reply, this stranger gave such a concert as no one else in the world could give. From that wonderful throat poured out song after song and note after note of Peter’s familiar friends of the Old Orchard, and the performance wound up with a lovely song which was all the stranger’s own. Peter didn’t have to be told who the stranger was. It was Mocker the Mockingbird.

“Oh!” gasped Peter. “Oh, Mocker, how under the sun do you do it? I was sure that it was Glory whom I heard whistling. Never again will I be able to believe my own ears.”

Mocker chuckled. “You’re not the only one I’ve fooled, Peter,” he said. “I flatter myself that I can fool almost anybody if I set out to. It’s
lots of fun. I may not be much to look at, and yet when it comes to singing there’s no one I envy.”

“I think you are very nice looking indeed,” replied Peter politely. “I’ve just been finding out this morning that you can’t tell much about folks just by their looks.”

“And now you’ve learned that you can’t always recognize folks by their voices, haven’t you?” chuckled Mocker.

“Yes,” replied Peter. “Now I shall never be sure about any feathered folks unless I can both see and hear them. Would you sing for me again, Mocker?”


Blackberry brambles are much loved by mockingbirds.


Mocker did. He sang and sang, for he clearly loves to sing. When he finished Peter had another question ready. “Somebody told me once that down in the South you are the most loved of all the birds. Is that so?”

“That’s not for me to say,” replied Mocker modestly. “I can tell you this, Peter, they do think a lot of me down there. There are many birds down there who are very beautifully dressed, birds who don’t come up here at all. Not one of them is loved as I am, and it is all on account of my voice. I would rather have a beautiful voice than a fine coat.”

“There’s Mrs. Goldy the Oriole over there,” said Mocker. “Watch me fool her.”

He began to call in exact imitation of Goldy’s voice when he is anxious about something. At once Mrs. Goldy came hurrying over to find out what the trouble was. When she discovered Mocker she lost her temper and scolded him; then she flew away a perfect picture of indignation. Mocker and Peter laughed, for they thought it a good joke.

Suddenly Peter remembered what Jenny Wren had told him. “Jenny said that you are a second cousin of hers. Are you really?” he asked.

Mocker nodded. “Yes,” he said, “we are relatives. We each belong to a branch of the same family.” Then he burst into Mr. Wren’s own song,
after which he excused himself and went to look for Mrs. Mockingbird. For, as he explained, it was time for them to be thinking of a nest.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Brown Thrasher
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Northern Mockingbird
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Mockingbird (p. 91-94) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawings of a Brown Thrasher (p8) and a Mockingbird (p27).

  • Also a copy of Audubon’s Birds of America Coloring Book by Paul E. Kennedy with a Brown Thrasher on page 38.

FYI -These coloring books are an excellent companion for this bird story series.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Summer #4 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A July treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Great Gift of a Graceful Group Gathering”

Bonus Butterflies at the “Beach”

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures 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!

Bird BOOK LOOK – Chapter 29 – Vireo + Another Warbler


Missed Chapter 1? Begin HERE



Chapter 29 – The Constant Singers


Over in a maple tree on the edge of Farmer Brown’s door yard lived Redeye the Vireo and Mrs. Vireo. Peter Rabbit knew that they had a nest there because Jenny Wren had told him so. He would have guessed it anyway, because Redeye spent so much time in that tree during the nesting season. No matter what hour of the day Peter visited the Old Orchard he heard Redeye singing over in the maple tree. Peter used to think that if song is an expression of happiness, Redeye must be the happiest of all birds.

He was a little fellow about the size of one of the larger Warblers and quite as modestly dressed as any of Peter’s acquaintances. The crown of his head was gray with a little blackish border on either side. Over each eye was a white line. Underneath he was white. For the rest he was dressed in light olive-green. The first time he came down near enough for Peter to see him well Peter understood at once why he is called Redeye as his eyes were truly red.

However it wasn’t often that Redeye came down so near the ground that Peter could see his eyes. He preferred to spend most of his time in the tree tops, and Peter only got glimpses of him now and then. It was even less often that he actually heard him. “I don’t see when Redeye finds time to eat,” declared Peter as he listened to the seemingly unending song in the maple tree.

“Redeye believes in singing while he works,” said Jenny Wren. “For my part I should think he’d wear his throat out. When other birds sing they don’t do anything else versus Redeye sings all the time he is looking for his meals and only stops long enough to swallow a worm or a bug when he finds it. Just as soon as it is down he begins to sing again while he looks for another. And I must say for the Vireos that they are mighty good nest builders. Have you seen their nest over in that maple tree, Peter?”

Peter shook his head. “I don’t dare go over there except very early in the morning before Farmer Brown’s folks are awake,” he said, “so I haven’t had much chance to look for it.”

“You probably couldn’t see it, anyway,” declared Jenny Wren. “They have placed it rather high up from the ground and those leaves are so thick that they hide it. It’s a regular little basket fastened in a fork near the end of a branch and it is woven almost as nicely as is the nest of Goldy the Oriole. How anybody has the patience to weave a nest like that is beyond me.”

“What is it made of?” asked Peter.


Maple tree leaves dressed in autumn red.


“Strips of bark, plant down, spider’s web, grass, and pieces of paper!” replied Jenny. “That’s a funny thing about Redeye; he dearly loves a piece of paper in his nest. He’s as fussy about having a scrap of paper as Cresty the Flycatcher is about having a piece of snake skin. I had just a peep into that nest a few days ago and unless I am greatly mistaken Sally the Cowbird has managed to impose on the Verios. I am certain I saw one of her eggs in that nest.”

A few mornings after this talk with Jenny Wren about Redeye the Vireo Peter once more visited the Old Orchard. No sooner did he come in sight than Jenny Wren’s tongue began to fly. “What did I tell you, Peter Rabbit? I knew it was so, and it is!” cried Jenny.

“What is so?” asked Peter, for he hadn’t the least idea what Jenny Wren was talking about.

“Sally the Cowbird did lay an egg in Redeye’s nest, and now it has hatched and I don’t know whatever is to become of Redeye’s own children!” cried Jenny, and hopped about and jerked her tail and worked herself into a small brown fury.

“The Vireos are working themselves to feathers and bone feeding that young Cowbird while their own babies aren’t getting half enough to eat,” continued Jenny. “One of them has died already. He was kicked out of the nest by that young Cowbird.”

“Oh my!” cried Peter. “If he does things like that I should think the Vireos would throw him out of the nest.”

“They’re too soft-hearted,” declared Jenny. “They say it isn’t his fault that he’s there, and that he’s nothing but a helpless baby, and so they just take care of him.”

“Then why don’t they feed their own babies first and give him what’s left?” Peter wondered.


Curious Capkin finds a strip of bark just right for a bird’s nest.


“Because he’s twice as big as any of their own babies and so strong that he simply snatches the food out of the very mouths of the others. Because he gets most of the food, he’s growing twice as fast as they are. He might kick all the rest of them out before he gets through. Mr. and Mrs. Vireo are dreadfully distressed about it, and yet they will feed him because they say it isn’t his fault.”

“Speaking of the Vireos, Redeye seems to be the only member of his family around here,” remarked Peter.

“Hold on, listen!” said Jenny Wren. “Do you hear that warbling song way over in the big elm in front of Farmer Brown’s house where Goldy the Oriole has his nest?”

Peter listened. At first he didn’t hear it, and then he did. The voice was not unlike that of Redeye, the song was smoother though, more continuous and sweeter. Peter’s face lit up. “I do hear it,” he cried.

“That’s Redeye’s cousin, the Warbling Vireo,” said Jenny. “He sings from the time jolly Mr. Sun gets up in the morning until he goes to bed at night. He sings when it is so hot that the rest of us are glad to keep still for comfort’s sake. I don’t know of anybody more fond of the tree tops than he is. He doesn’t seem to care anything about the Old Orchard, he just stays over in those big trees along the road. He’s got a nest over in that big elm and it is as high up as that of Goldy the Oriole; I haven’t seen it myself, Goldy told me about it.”

“Somehow I don’t remember just what Warble looks like,” Peter confessed.

“He looks a lot like his cousin, Redeye,” replied Jenny. “His coat is a little duller olive-green and underneath he is a little bit yellowish instead of white. Of course he doesn’t have red eyes, and he is a little smaller than Redeye. The whole family looks pretty much alike anyway.”

“They get me all mixed up,” declared Peter. “If only some of them had some bright colors it would be easier to tell them apart.”

“One has,” replied Jenny Wren. “He has a bright yellow throat and breast and is called the Yellow-throated Vireo. There isn’t the least chance of mistaking him.”

“Is he a singer, too?” asked Peter.

“Oh yes,” replied Jenny. “Every one in that family loves to sing. It’s a family trait. Now I must get on with my day, goodbye Peter.”

“Goodbye Jenny!” Peter called out as he hopped away to the dear Old Briar-patch.


Some birds prefer tall trees, especially for their homes.


P.L.A.Y. in Place Projects


Try these activities to extend your bird story adventures:

  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Red-eyed Vireo
  • Visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology – ALL ABOUT BIRDS –  Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Q/A –Questions with answers to keep this conversation going are available for both Maple Tree + Elm Tree (p. 628-637 ) in the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock offered FREE online HERE.
  • Another option is to get a copy of Fifty Favorite Birds Coloring Book by Lisa Bonforte and some colored pencils to complete the drawings of a Yellowthroat (p45) and a Red-eyed Vireo (p33).

FYI -This coloring book is an excellent companion for this bird story series with most of the 50 birds represented as characters throughout the chapters.


Source: Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess

P.L.A.Y. has provided a new online version of all 45 chapters of this updated and annotated 100+ year old public domain classic to:

  • be suitable for the 21st century family by having the Thornton Burgess woodland characters evolve to model mindfulness and loving kindness
  • highlight and bring awareness to the New England nature settings and offer an opportunity to learn more about birds and other woodland animals through this story adventure
  • create story extension moments through P.L.A.Y. suggested activities and investigations for making new nature connections generated by the reader’s own curiosity
  • encourage families to keep their own nature notebooks for drawing, writing, painting, and recording their own local daily outdoor P.L.A.Y. adventures.

P.L.A.Y. Time – Pass it on!

Summer #42 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A June treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Peeking thru the Pretty Petals”

Bonus Curious Capkin Companion 

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures 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!

Toad BOOK LOOK #5: Tadpoles Hatching + The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)

HATCHING

“As the embryos in the egg strands elongate they move more vigorously till on the second or third day they wriggle out of the jelly string. This is the hatching and they are now free in the water and can swim about. Initially they hang themselves up on the old egg string by means of a peculiar v-shaped organ on their heads.” ~ S.H. Gage, Life History of the Toad, Cornell Nature Study Leaflet, 1904

Have you ever seen a tiny “seedling” sized tadpole?

“At first the little tadpoles remain under water all the time and breathe the air dissolved in the water, just as a fish does. As they grow larger and larger, they rush up to the surface once in awhile and then dive down again, as if their lives depended on it. The older they grow the oftener they come to the surface. This is the tadpole getting ready to breathe the free air above the water when it turns into a toad and lives on the land.” ~ S.H. Gage, Life History of the Toad, Cornell Nature Study Leaflet, 1904

This seedling size tadpole was scooped up with a handful of water and only held for a moment to take a photo before replacing back in the water.

Watch a video of this tadpole in action HERE on PINTEREST.


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

Skyscape Simplicity #42: A Meditative Moment


❤ ❤ ❤


Look skyward

< Breathe In >

< Breathe Out >

Take a moment to watch the clouds roll by . . .

and connect to the calm and beauty of nature that is always there for you.

❤ ❤ ❤

Wishing you much peace & prosperity throughout your P.L.A.Y. days.


❤ ❤ ❤


peace: inner calm

prosperity: good fortune & well-being

Summer #39 – Nature Alliteration Adventure


Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books


❤ ❤ ❤

A June treasure quest for you & your curious Capkin

is to search in nature for . . .

“Soft + Shade-maker + Stemmed”

Bonus Size of a Super Small Saucer

❤ ❤ ❤

My curious Capkin & I found this treasure to match the description.

❤ ❤ ❤


What other natural treasures 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!