Now that the snow is thawing, we’re ready to dive into spring nature studies (see what I did there?). One of our favorite topics to spend time exploring is pond life. There is SO much to explore – frogs, turtles, toads, fish, worms, snails, mussels, plants, insects, algae, birds… Ponds are actually among the most biodiverse and ecologically important freshwater habitats in the world. Your local pond is teeming with life – it’s a wonderful place to go explore nature with kids!
Pond Dipping Activity
One of the best ways to learn about pond life, in my opinion, is to get up close and personal. Grab a large plastic storage container (preferably clear or white), some nets and a magnifying glass if you have one. Scoop some pond water into the container, and use your net to see what you can find. This is a great way to catch frogs, fish, tadpoles, insects, nymphs and more. Once your kiddos are done observing their finds, gently pour the water back into the pond.
If your kiddos bring back nature finds from the pond (we limit ours to non-living nature finds – i.e. rocks, empty mussel shells, dragonfly wings, cattails are okay… live beetles, snails, crawfish, etc. are a no), make sure to give them some time to explore these further with a magnifying glass, microscope, etc. You might also want to bring back a small sample of pond water to explore under a microscope as well.
Pond Life Small World Sensory Bin
If you have small children, or just love the hands-on element, a pond small world sensory bin is just the thing to bring pond studies to life.
- Plastic storage container or tray
- Kinetic sand (or real sand)
- Blue marbles (or water beads)
- Pond toy animals
- Optional: small rocks, faux plants, moss or other accessories
In the bottom of the container, arrange the kinetic sand and blue marbles to represent mud and water. (If you wish to use real water, you’ll need to dry out your kinetic sand afterwards. Simply spread it out on a flat surface to dry and it will return to its original state.) Try not to direct their play, but let them be in charge and watch as the imaginative play unfolds!
Monet’s Water Lilies Watercolor Painting
Recreating one of Claude Monet’s famous water lily paintings is a great way to add an element of art and art history into your pond study. Our favorite way to do this is by using a combination of oil pastels and watercolor paints. Check out this link for a full tutorial on how to create your own water lilies painting at home.
Of course no unit study is complete at our house without a plethora of beautiful books. Here are some of our favorites for learning about pond life and wetland habitats:
Frog and Toad Together (Our VERY favorite; we read this book often)
Another book to consider, although it’s technically a chapter book and not a picture book, is The Wind in the Willows. It’s one of our most treasured read alouds, and what better time to start reading than pond week?
Want to teach your kids more about pond life? Check out our Pond Journal, a guided journal and unit study for kids!
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