Exploring and learning about life cycles through observation and illustration is important for children to help them respect and care for the living things around them.
Inquiring into life cycles within a context that children will understand and recognize is best done by observing and discussing the life cycles of flowers, butterflies, frogs and chickens. It allows children to understand that with growth there is change.
We in EY2 Red are observing the life cycle of a frog.
Before we brought the tadpoles to class we had a class discussion about frog eggs, tadpoles and frogs. The children shared their thinking and personal connections about these:
• I have never seen a frog egg or a baby frog.
• I have seen big black frogs in my grandma’s garden.
• When we are quiet we can hear the frogs singing in the pond.
We then followed up by reading the book “Oscar and the frog” and a few books about the life cycle of frogs, to deepen and challenge the children’s thinking and provoke more discussion.
We were lucky to find tadpoles in our school pond. We scooped out a bucket full of tadpoles with water from the pond and brought it to our class. Before we moved them into the tank we put some rocks, weeds and pond plants.
It was wonderful to see the excitement on the face of the children!
“Come and see it looks like a fish and swims like a fish too”.
“I wonder if they have eyes (we know that worms do not have eyes)”
“I like to see his tail wiggle. The tail is a little bit bushy”.
The children come to school every day excited to see if the tadpoles have grown. We are waiting to see the back and front legs to appear, facts discovered during the children’s research.
They continue to observe and discuss the changes whilst referencing the books available to them. The children have shared their learning and theories with their Grade 3 reading buddies and some Grade 5 students visiting our class.
This experience has provided opportunities for language development (learning new vocabulary) maths (numbers, size) and science (life cycle).
If we want children to respect the natural environment, we have to give them opportunities to connect and experience it.