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Frog Philharmonic (FBCEC)

TopicLaboratory and Hands-on Activities - General
Outdoor Skills - Identification
Wildlife - Amphibians
Summary
This activity helps younger participants identify common frogs of Arkansas and their calls. They will use frog puppets in an identification game.

Recommended SettingIndoor or outdoor classroom
LocationFred Berry Conservation Education Center, Yellville, AR
Contact

Education Program Coordinator, 870-449-3484

 

Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 24
Objectives
  • Identify frogs using photographs and calls. (Live frogs can be used if available.)
  • Describe identifying field marks of common frogs.
  • Practice using multiple senses to identify wildlife.

 

Key Terms*

American bullfrog

Amphibian

Chorus frog

Cricket frog

Field marks

Green frog

Herpetologist

Philharmonic

Wood frog

Materials

Binoculars

Photos and recordings of:

  • Chorus frog
  • Cricket frog
  • American bull frog
  • Green frog
  • Spring peeper

Photocopied frog puppets

Popsicle sticks

Coke cans

Combs

Frog field guides

Frog identification cards

Live frogs, if available

Inflated balloons

Pebbles

Rubber bands

Background

An early sign of spring is the sound of frogs. Frogs call to attract mates or to warn other frogs to stay out of their territory. The health of amphibian populations indicates the quality of freshwater and wetland habitats. When amphibians start to disappear, it is a warning that all is not well in the environment.

Procedure
  1. Begin by playing common frog calls. Don’t explain, just start the recordings and when a common frog is heard, hold up a picture of the frog that is making the call. Do this for a minute or more without speaking.
  2. Ask what they think was happening. Give some background information about amphibians and frogs, and discuss the reasons frogs call and how those calls can unveil the condition of their environment.
  3. Tell them they are going to identify five frogs found in the area and their calls (for very young, try three).
  4. Hold up a frog card and ask what they notice about the frog. Record their responses on a dry erase board. Tell them the things they are noticing are called field marks and are clues to help herpetologists identify frogs.
  5. Show them one frog at a time, telling them the name and asking what field marks they notice. Record their responses and continue until they have covered all five frogs. As each frog is introduced, show the photocopy puppets.  This is a good time to offer interesting facts about each species featured.
  6. Distribute the photocopied puppets and have students cut them out and glue or staple them to popsicle sticks.
  7. Have them put the puppets aside.
  8. Next, introduce the frog calls, showing the frog identification card and puppet each time the call is made. Let them guess the name of the frog as the identification card and puppet are held up and the call is played.
  9. Tell them they will be playing a game where they will be using their puppets to identify the frog calls.
  10. Play a call, and when the participants know what it is, have them hold up their puppet.  Continue until they are tired of the game.
  11. Next, show them how to use the comb, balloon, rocks, rubber band and Coke can to simulate the frog calls. Introduce one at a time, showing how to mimic the sound.
  12. Raking fingers over teeth of comb – chorus frog; quickly rubbing finger on blown-up balloon – wood frog; two rocks clicked together quickly – cricket frog; rubber band wrapped around a Coke can and “picked” – green frog; “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” chanted repeatedly – American bull frog
  13. Assign a sound to each participant and hand out the item(s) for mimicking the call.
  14. Tell the participants they will become a “frog philharmonic.” One type of frog at a time, have them make their sounds, then blend together.
  15. Go outside and look for the frogs they learned about. Let participants share what they found. Have them describe the frogs and tell where they found them. If there is time, let them draw a picture of what they saw or a picture of a frog chorus.

Note: If these are not the common frog species in the area, experiment with ways to simulate frog calls for the particular area.

Review
  • Explain why frogs begin calling in early spring.
  • Why should people pay attention to frog calls?
  • Name and describe the field marks and information about each frog.
Resources
  • Conant, Roger, Robert C. Stebbins and Joseph T. Collins (1992). Peterson First Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians. Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Llewellyn, Claire and Simon Mendez (2003). Starting Life – Frog. NorthWord Press.
  • Trauth, Stanley E., Henry W. Robison and Michael V. Plummer (2004). The Amphibians and Reptiles of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press.
Related Documents
Glossary

American bullfrog – largest of all North American frogs (Ranidae), this giant can grow to a length of 8 inches or more; typically green or gray-brown with brown spots and easily identifiable circular eardrums; most often found along the water’s edge in larger, permanent bodies of water such as swamps, ponds

Amphibian – any cold-blooded, egg laying vertebrate of the class Amphibia having gilled aquatic larvae and air-breathing, semiterrestrial adults; examples are frogs and toads, newts and salamanders, and caecilians

Chorus frog – (Pseudacris) a genus of frogs in the Hylidae family, found in North America east of the Rocky Mountains from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico; genus  name comes from the Greek pseudes (false) and akris (locust), probably referring to the repeated rasping trill of most chorus frogs, which is similar to a locust.

Cricket frog – either of two species of small, nonclimbing North American tree frogs (Acris Crepitans and Acris Gryllus), having a call that is a series of rapid clicks, sounding much like the song of crickets; located in the eastern and central United States, usually along the open, grassy margin of ponds, streams and other shallow bodies of water

Field marks – distinguishing marks or coloration on a bird

Green frog – medium-sized greenish-brown frog (Rana Clamitans) with blotchy markings on the back and/or sides; has a pronounced tympanum (circle behind the eye) and is similar to a bullfrog; found in or near marshes and ponds in the United States and Canada

Herpetologist – one who studies reptiles and amphibians

Philharmonic – a symphony or orchestra

Wood frog – a typically light-brown frog, Rana Sylvatica, which inhabits damp woodlands and has a brown mask-like patch running from snout to ears