Has your little one ever brought in a wriggling salamander or croaking wood frog? While you may not want these slimy amphibians hanging around your house all of the time, you can still teach your children about them with fun and child-friendly activities. Your children will get so into these little creatures that they might just start leaping and slithering around the room.
Salamanders look like snakes with legs, and you can use this to your advantage when you try to think of activities that involve these little creatures. To make salamander crafts, think of ways to create a craft snake, then add on four squatty legs. For example, help your child make a sock snake by filling an old sock with cotton batting and tying the end closed. Let your child decorate the sock snake with washable markers or tempera paint. Once dry, cut out and sew on four squatty legs using colorful felt fabric. You can also have your child roll out a snake shape with salt dough or clay, then help him press on dough or clay legs afterward.
Wood Frog Activities
Wood frogs and children are like peas and carrots; kids just naturally love these little leaping amphibians. Wood frogs are unlike frogs found in the jungles of the rain forest in that they are dull in color and larger than frogs like the poison dart. If you live in a wooded or rural area, you might be able to find wood frogs in your backyard. In the meantime, make a few wood frog crafts with your child. Have your child fold a paper plate in half, then tape it closed. She can paint the paper plate brown or dull green with tempera paint, then you can attach construction paper legs on to the sides of the folded plate. Add on large googly eyes and a curled up paper tongue with craft glue. Or, cut out a large circle from brown or green construction paper and glue on large googly eyes. Then, trace around your little one's hands and cut out the hand prints. Glue the hand prints underneath the circle to create a silly wood frog.
Salamander and Wood Frog Field Trip
Take your child on a nature hike where salamanders and wood frogs might live, such as in a woodland forest with a creek or stream running through it. Since salamanders and frogs need to be around water, look for a hiking trail that is both easy for your little one to maneuver and right next to the creek. Go in late spring to late summer, when salamanders and wood frogs will be the most likely to come out and visit. Let your tot know beforehand that you will not be catching any critters to bring home and that they want to keep living in the wild with the rest of their families. Otherwise, you just might find a stowaway in his pocket when you get home.
Salamander and Wood Frog Books
Not sure how to describe salamanders and wood frogs to your child? Don't go it alone. Get the help you need from a few children's books at your library. You can find a wide array of colorful and educational books about these amphibians that are just right for toddlers and preschool-aged children. A few popular favorites include "Big Night for Salamanders," by Sarah Marwil Lamstein; "The Salamander Room," by Anne Mazer; and "Wood Frog," by David M. Schwartz and Dwight Kuhn.