On April 1st, the Fours class received two leopard frog tadpoles. We were told the full metamorphosis would take 12-16 weeks, so we knew that the children would probably not see the whole process, but we did expect that they would be able to see some significant change.
It was disappointing to see the weeks go by without the tadpoles doing much more than grow fatter. Luckily, they were still fascinating for the children, and just their interactions and habits proved to be interesting enough. With Meg's--our science teacher--help, we explored frogs' life cycle and habits, we did endless observational drawings, and made charts recording the tadpoles' growth (at least they were definitely getting bigger!)
By the last day of school, on June 11th, one of the tadpoles had two minuscule back legs, almost impossible to see. Disappointed, I cleaned the tank, packed the tadpoles in a bag, and took the whole thing home, unsure of what I'd do with them.
Meg, our science teacher, suspected we had not received leopard frog tadpoles, but bullfrog ones instead, which take between two and three years to go through the full metamorphosis...
A couple of weeks into summer vacation, and still only back legs on one tadpole and no sign of change on the other. I was starting to think that Meg was indeed right. But then my sons noticed that there were actually two tiny front legs on the growing tadpole. There was hope!
And indeed, after leaving them in a friend's care for a few days while my family went away to celebrate the Fourth of July... Big change awaited us!
I was informed by my First Grader (who had done a whole unit on frogs at school), that we had only one tadpole, and the other one was now a froglet. It was absolutely amazing to see how quickly things progressed once the front legs appeared. The froglet got a rock in the tank so he could rest now that he had lungs, and within a few days his tail disappeared and we had a real frog!
It was sad to think that my students had not seen this transformation, but I could at least send their parents and email with pictures; and it was so fun to receive all the children's responses.
Next school year, we will get tadpoles earlier so that we all get to see first hand this truly amazing process.