Ribbit! Ribbit! A thematic unit on frogs
by Christine Gorman
Your English language learners (ELLs) will love this unit on frogs. Tie it to a thematic unit about the pond habitat and it becomes perfect material for transitioning into Spring.
This unit can be taught to students with a wide range of English language abilities and can be adapted to a wider range of grades than those that I selected. The unit was developed for Kindergarten through 2nd grade ELLs. It allows the teacher to work with young students who are developing their listening, speaking and social skills; and, at the same time, include those older students who are progressing into reading and writing.
Proficiency/Grade Level:Kindergarten to 2nd grade. Beginning to intermediate students. The unit can also be adapted for students in grades 3-5.
Animal vocabulary; habitats; frog life cycle
Vocabulary:Animal vocabulary: the pond, egg, frog spawn, jelly, embryo, tadpole, head, tail, body, algae, hind legs, front legs, gills, lungs, insects, frog, hibernation, amphibian, land, water, cold blooded, webbed, enemies, camouflage
Pictures of a large number on pond animals; books on frogs and the pond habitat; access to a computer
To see an overview of the unit download my Frog Thematic Web.
- To introduce the frog unit, I began by reading All Eyes on the Pond by Michael J. Rosen. This book is beautifully illustrated and introduces the students to animals that live in a pond habitat. It also incorporates rhyming words. Some of the vocabulary is too difficult for the younger and less proficient students; therefore, paraphrasing is necessary at times.
- Students identified parts of a book, including front cover, back cover, title, author, etc.
- Students learned animal names and descriptive vocabulary words.
- By viewing Enchanted Learning website, we were able to look at a pond habitat. From this website, I printed a large variety of animals who live in this habitat. Students now encountered animals that they already knew, or saw in the book “All Eyes on the Pond.” They selected several pond animals each, colored and cut them out. We used them to make a display/bulletin board. Students labeled their animals. The more proficient students selected one of their animals and wrote a paragraph describing it. The background information that they used to do their writing piece was also obtained from “Enchanted Learning.” Paraphrasing may be necessary when you read the selections from the web site to your students.
- The next step in this unit revolved around the song Frog On A Log by Norma L. Gentner. The students learned the song by following in a Big Book. By singing the song, students practiced “language chunks,” which they are able to use in other disciplines. Students also learn to spell basic words such as FROG, LOG, LEGS, EGG, SWIM, RIM, LEAP, DEEP, TAIL, TALE, REST, and BEST. They identified rhyming words. Through the use of this book, students made puppets showing the stages of a frog’s life cycle, from egg to frog.
- I continued the frog unit by reading Frogs by Gail Gibbons. When I read this book to my students, they already had prior knowledge of a large amount of the related vocabulary words. Students had been exposed to the frog’s life cycle; and therefore had confidence in sharing their knowledge as we read and discussed the book. Key vocabulary words were noted on chart paper. Daily performance assessment was conducted as I dismissed students after they are able to answer questions regarding that day’s reading. Questions were worded according to the student’s language level.
- Once the book was read in its entirety, the students created their own little book. I typed an 18-page booklet, taking the main parts from “Frogs” by Gail Gibbons. Here, students plugged in the vocabulary words that they learned from "Frogs." Students also illustrated what they wrote. They had their own book to bring home and share. Through repetition and time, even the younger, less proficient students were able to read their work.
- Secrets of Nature – Hidden Animals is a good way to explain the concept of camouflage to the class. Students observed how different animals can blend into their environment. Next, I distributed a frog pattern to each student. You can download the Frog Pattern to use for this activity. Students were then instructed to select a location in the classroom where they would hide their frog. They were told to color their frog pattern according to the background so that their frog would be camouflaged. One by one, students were instructed to place their frog in their selected location, while the other students closed their eyes. By teaming a younger child with an older child who could write, the younger students was able to go around the class and locate all the frogs that were hidden. As they found one, they would come back and related the color and location of the frog to the note taker of the team. In my case, I had eight students; therefore, eight frogs had to be found. Obviously, the first frog to be found was always their own. This was a great activity incorporating cooperative learning.
- Next I selected a traditional model of a jumping frog for the students to make their own origami frog. There are many internet sites with origami patterns. Students had to follow oral instructions in order to make their frog. The teacher may have to make a couple of extras for those frogs that are not jumping so well. Once complete, students can decorate their origami frog. A ruler style chart is set up, reflecting the numbers from one to 20. (See which students remember that frogs can jump up to 10 times their size.) Have students take turns to make their frogs jump on the chart paper. A variety of spatial and math concepts can be taught using this activity. The students will determine which frog jumped the farthest, closest, same, more than, less than, difference between them.
- Finally, the last part to my unit was taught through fiction. I read “The Letter” a story in Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. We discussed feelings. Students imitated facial expressions to reflect happy, sad, mad, scared. As a group, we discussed how Toad was feeling because he had never received a letter. We also talked about them getting mail, and how they felt. Most of my ESL students have received mail from family or friends that they left behind in their native countries. Those students who were able to write, wrote a letter to Toad.
Additional Activities and Resources
- You can also have K-1 students make thefrog hat from the PDF download.
- Align this lesson to the TESOL Standards by downloading frog unit skills.
- Download my bibliography to find the books I used.
- See my handout from TESOL 2003.
© 1998-2008 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net