Tadpoles + Summer Storms + P.L.A.Y.

Tadpoles at the river’s edge in the summer sunshine.

What happens to the toad tadpoles when summer storms rain down and the river momentarily rages with white rapids?

For a few years now I’ve visited this same river location on our community property and witnessed the before and after tadpole populations and patterns. Typically I will see large pockets of tadpole groupings at specific spots when they all hatch out of the egg casings. Then over time they begin to redistribute and spread out just a bit along the river’s edge or they get caught up in a current and are brought down river just a little ways if there is a gentle rain and slight rising in the water levels.

What I hadn’t done yet was actually go down to the river during a full on storm to observe first hand what was happing at the river’s edge. Recently I had the opportunity to do just this as fate would have it Mother Nature provided a gap in a series of storms so I could skip the torrential down pours or threat of thunder and lightening.

What I discovered was that most of the tadpoles actually stay in place! Serendipitous!

The water levels rise and the river turns into rapids, however the river also widens and the tadpoles end up gently rocking in the river grasses where the water remains only a few inches deep. I’m sure there are some that get redistributed down stream as the populations in pockets do seem to alter after a storm. However, not as many as I had originally thought.

I was so relieved to discover that not all the tadpoles were being tossed about every time a storm came through and now I have this sweet image in my mind of them being gently rocked amongst the river grasses and weathering the storm together.


BONUS


It is fascinating to me that after five summers of observing this process of the life cycle of the American Toad, here in my neck-of-the-woods, that there is still so much to learn and observe. Exciting and grounding at the same time.

Truly every season simply has so many opportunities to put P.L.A.Y. into action, connecting to nature and my own curious nature too. Love it!

I hope you are taking a moment to make your own P.L.A.Y. discoveries and tap into your curious nature too. Perhaps it is a bird’s nest in a bush outside your front door, walking in a local garden, hiking the same trail at a nearby nature center, or watching cloud and weather patterns right out your window.

Wishing you and yours many P.L.A.Y. days throughout this summer and the seasons ahead!

Next question of the day – Did the rock dam hold up or will we need to rebuild? Stay tuned!

P.L.A.Y. – Pass it on!

TOAD #20: Tiny Toadlets

After watching the tadpoles and checking on them routinely how did I miss that ten tiny toadlets, like the one below, had sprouted arms and legs as tadpoles and were already hopping on the sandy river’s edge?

Notice how the tail hasn’t completely gone away and will continue dissolving into the toad as it grows.

When the toadlets first exit the water they are very tiny in relation to a human finger.


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

P.L.A.Y. – Pass it on!

TOAD #17: Spring + Summer Curiosities

Where do the tails on these tadpoles go once they become toads?

Why do tadpoles all gather at the water’s edge and huddle so close?


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 10 of 19


Chapter 10

The Smiling Pool Playground


Play a little, learn a little, grow a little too;
That’s what every pollywoggy tries their best to do.

The Smiling Pool had become a playground for the babies of Grandfather Frog, Old Mr. Toad, and Stickytoes the Tree Toad in which the babies spent their days learning and playing. All of these cousins looked considerably alike at first for they all began as pollywogs. Peter Rabbit came over every day to eagerly watch them wriggle about and it made him curious and wonder more about them.

Cluster of Tadpoles at the Smiling Pool

“I think there’s one thing about them, and that is they are not in danger the same way other babies are,” said Peter, talking to himself as is his way when there is no one else to talk to. Just then a funny little black pollywog wriggled into sight, and while Peter was watching him, a stout-jawed water beetle suddenly rushed from among the water grass, seized the pollywog by his tail, and dragged him down. Peter stared. Could it be that that bug was as dangerous an enemy to the baby Toad as Reddy Fox is to a baby Rabbit? He began to suspect so, and a little later he knew so, for there was that same little pollywog trying hard to swim and struggling because he had lost half of his long tail.

That set Peter to watching more closely and presently he discovered that pollywogs have to keep their eyes open quite as much as do baby Rabbits, if they are to live and grow up. There were several kinds of odd looking bugs forever darting out at the wriggling pollywogs. Hungry looking fish lay in wait for them, and Longlegs the Blue Heron seemed to have a special liking for them too. And yet the pollywogs were spry, and seemed to have learned to watch out.

Bird left track in mud after stopping to snack on tadpoles.

They seemed to Peter to spend all their time swimming and eating and growing. They grew so fast that it seemed to him that he could almost see them grow. And just imagine how surprised Peter was to discover one day that that very pollywog which he had seen lose his tail had grown a new one. That puzzled Peter more than anything he had seen in a long time.

“Why, I couldn’t do that!” he exclaimed right out loud.

“Do what?” asked Jerry Muskrat, who happened along just then.

“Why, grow a new tail like that pollywog,” replied Peter, and told Jerry all that he had seen. Jerry laughed.

“You’ll see funnier things than that if you watch those pollywogs long enough,” he said. “They are very interesting to watch if you’ve got the time for it. I haven’t. This Smiling Pool is a great playground for learning, and there’s something happening here every minute. There’s no place like it.”

“Are those great big fat pollywogs Grandfather Frog’s children, or Old Mr. Toad’s?” asked Peter.

“Grandfather Frog’s last year’s children,” replied Jerry. “They’ll grow into real Frogs this summer, if nothing happens to them.”

“Where are Old Mr. Toad’s last year’s children?” asked Peter.

“Don’t ask me,” replied Jerry. “They hopped away last summer. Never saw anything like the way those Toad youngsters grow. Those Toad pollywogs you see now will turn into real Toads, and be leaving the Smiling Pool in a few weeks. People think Old Mr. Toad is slow, and yet there is nothing slow about his children. Look at that little fellow over there; he’s begun to grow legs already.”

Peter looked, and sure enough there was a pollywog with a pair of legs sprouting out. They were his fore legs, and they certainly did make him look funny. And only a few days before there hadn’t been a sign of legs.

“My gracious!” exclaimed Peter. “Oh what a fun sight! And I thought my babies grew fast!”

Discover more P.L.A.Y. TOAD nature videos and adventures!



Toad BOOK LOOK – Chapter 9 of 19


Chapter 9

Old Mr. Toad’s Babies


The Smiling Pool’s a nursery
Where all the sunny day
A thousand funny babies
Are taught amidst their play.

Really the Smiling Pool is a learning center and playground all rolled into one. Little Joe Otter’s children learn to swim there. So do Jerry Muskrat’s babies and those of Billy Mink, the Trout and Minnow babies, and a lot more. And there you will also find the children and grandchildren of Grandfather Frog and Old Mr. Toad.

Peter Rabbit had known for a long time about the Frog babies, and yet though he knew that Old Mr. Toad was a cousin to Grandfather Frog, he hadn’t known anything about Toad babies, except that at a certain time in the year he was forever running across tiny Toads, especially on rainy days, and each little Toad was just like Old Mr. Toad, except for his size. Peter had heard it said that Toads rain down from the sky, and sometimes it seems as if this must be so. Of course he knew it couldn’t be, and yet it puzzled him a great deal. There wouldn’t be a Toad in sight. Then it would begin to rain, and right away there would be so many tiny Toads that it was hard work to jump without stepping on some.

Old Mr. Toad was sitting in his usual place. He wasn’t singing. He was staring at something in the water. When Peter said “Good morning,” Old Mr. Toad didn’t seem to hear him. He was too much interested in what he was watching. Peter stared down into the water to see what was interesting Old Mr. Toad so much and all he saw was a lot of wriggling tadpoles.

“What are you staring at, Mr. Sobersides?” asked Peter, speaking a little louder than before.

Old Mr. Toad turned and looked at Peter, and there was a look of great pride in his face. “I’m just watching my babies. Aren’t they lovely?” he said.

Peter stared harder than ever, and yet he couldn’t see anything that looked like a baby Toad.

“Where are they?” asked Peter. “I don’t see any babies, only those of Grandfather Frog, and if you ask me, I always did think tadpoles were a funny lot to see.”

Old Mr. Toad puffed up with pride and said “Those are not Grandfather Frog’s children; they’re mine and I think they are the most beautiful babies in the world!”

Peter sat straight up and said “I beg your pardon, Mr. Toad, I thought all tadpoles were Frog babies. They all look alike to me.”

“Well, they’re not,” declared Old Mr. Toad.

“Chug-a-rum!” interrupted the great deep voice of Grandfather Frog. “Are you talking about our babies? They are real beauties if I do say so myself!” he said as he smiled down upon them.

Peter just looked into the Smiling Pool and watched the wriggling pollywogs. They were more interesting now, because he had found out that some of them were Toads and some were Frogs, and he hadn’t known before that baby Toads begin life as tadpoles.


Discover more P.L.A.Y. TOAD nature videos and adventures!



TOAD #15: Magical Movement

Watch a video of these tadpoles in action on Pinterest HERE

(Above) A Curious Capkin watches the active tadpoles at P.L.A.Y. at the river’s edge on a summer’s day.


 ~ ~ ~ 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.

TOAD #9: Read Aloud – Chapter 9 of The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (Annotated)


New VIDEO BONUS of CHAPTER 9!

FREE! Read Aloud by Karen creator of P.L.A.Y. of The Adventures of Old Mr. Toad (annotated)  on Pinterest HERE.


Old Mr. Toad’s baby tadpoles have sprouted legs!


~ BOOK LOOK ~

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 yard or 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 P.L.A.Y. time to connect with nature and be sure to bring along your curious Capkin too!
  2. Try a copy of this nature story activity book for inspiration and to ignite your naturally creative imagination. Odds are once you read this story you and your family will be 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 and The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver as well as the most recent FREE ONLINE edition of The Burgess Bird Book for Children with both chapter-by-chapter story and activities unfolding HERE on P.L.A.Y..

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. 

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 adventure

Gifting this book to a kiddo in your life, a family in your neighborhood, or simply passing P.L.A.Y. forward are ways to keep nature connections alive and well.

Thanks for sharing and caring!!!

❤ ❤ ❤

TOAD #8: Camouflage

Where does toad spend most of his days?

Look closely, he is camouflaged in the Green Forest under the shadows of the trees and hiding amongst the leaf litter.

Can you see me better now?!?

P.L.A.Y. Adventure Time 

  • Walk in the woods with a watchful eye seeing what lies amongst the leaf litter. Who else is hiding out down low along the ground in toad’s neck-of-the-woods?
  • What colors often create a camouflage effect or help the animals and critters of the woods blend in?
  • To read more about the colors of Old Mr.Toad’s “coat” get a copy of the book below!

 ~ ~ ~ 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.

TOAD #7: More Activities for 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.


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.

❤ ❤ ❤

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 

❤ ❤ ❤

TOAD #6: Tons of Tadpoles

” 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.