Thursday, October 3, 2013

Frogs and Animal Time

N.’s father brought four tree frogs into our class in a big glass enclosure.  They were raised from tadpoles that were brought back from a family vacation in Tennessee.  He explained that they might not be terribly active during the day here in class as they are primarily nocturnal.  
E.S.'s retelling of the past-present-future of the frogs
(showing N's mom catching them and the frogs in their cage in our class) 

N's dad:  Recounting the story:  [N’s mother] went looking for tadpoles downstream from a cow pasture.  [To grow,] tadpoles need still water.  She heard there was ditch at the edge of a cow field where she could find tadpoles.  She found eight tadpoles. 

N:  We brought them home and fed them [cooled down] boiled lettuce.  You could see their legs through their skin and then [the legs] popped out.  When they became frogs, they began eating bugs. 

N's dad: In nature, if you had one hundred tadpoles, only five will make it. Why would so many frogs not survive?
The children discussed some of the possibilities:  fish might eat the tadpoles, there may be a lack of water (which would cause dehydration) or lack of food (starvation), and temperature changes. 

G's frog
The morning after the frogs' exciting arrival in our class, we offered up a provocation to get them to think about time from yet another perspective. The children have thought about adult time, kid time, and what time looks like - now we asked them to think about animal time.  How do animals experience time?  Many children went back to their previous models to think about the frogs' past, present, and future as a life cycle, while others thought more about how animals might perceive time differently than we do. 

N.S.:  In the future, frogs will be Super Frogs.  They can fly!
One of many depictions of a frog's experience of time as past-present-future

T:  [above]:  Past: It's a little tadpole and there are tadpole eggs.  And that's the mommy frog.  That egg is hatching.  There are mosquitos in the water - they're black specks.  Present:  The little froggy is sitting there.  Future:  And in the future, there are frogs flying into houses.

[Note:  many of the children were very interested in the possibility of flying frogs, courtesy of the book Tuesday by David Wiesner.  Just as some of them had depicted themselves flying with jet packs in the future, they remembered that the frogs in this story begin to magically fly...and maybe that might be possible for a future frog.]
How are these pictures similar to our past-present-future drawings? How might animal time be different from human time?
Several students mentioned that we all start as babies, we grow up, and then we eventually pass away.

P:  [above]:  The frogs are spending their whole lives in a cage.  It seems as if life would pass so slowly.  Well, they are supposed to sit around and eat and stuff. 
E.S.:  It would be more awesome outside, [but it would be more dangerous] outside because of enemies – predators. The outside would be better, but not safe. 

Do frogs feel bored?  Or is boredom a human feeling?
M:  I think that living in a cage would be like the ultimate time out.
G: They don’t even know what time is.
E.K:  They wouldn’t know about time because they can’t talk and are in tune with nature, not watches. 
P:  [Animals] don’t ever have to go to work [like people do].  They don’t have to go anywhere. 
C:  If they did have the same time [as people], when they have tadpoles, well, that is their work…or turning into a frog is a tadpole’s work.
M:  Animals don’t have school or playdates or “when can we leave this boring furniture store?”

Do animals experience time? 

E.K. went to the white board to draw her understanding
E.K.:  I think it would be silly if elephants told time.  They don’t have watches.

E.S.:  It would be silly for frogs to tell time.  It would be awesome if they could so they would know day and night and when to be quiet.  They would be the smartest frogs in the world.
N:  If a frog has a watch, he doesn’t know what it is. 
T:  Animals would be confused.
C:  They would know sort of because some animals wake up early and some get out at night.  Then they have to get back to their habitat.
Day and night is a way that animals can tell time.
L:  Frogs don’t need a watch – if it’s nighttime, they can tell that it’s time to sleep.
M:  I think animals can tell time because we are animals.  They do tell time because they know day and night, and when to eat and when to hibernate.
Animals experience time differently than we do but they do have an understanding of time.
A.L.:  Thinks back to our past-present-future frog drawings:  First, he is a tadpole, and then he is a frog, and then when time ends, he dies.

Life is an experience of time.  As a frog, there is a time to be born,
a time to make tadpoles, and a time to pass away.
M:  Animals know when to hibernate – when it gets cold.  So they are telling time by temperature.

How will they know when to wake up?
W:  When it gets warmer.  When it gets warmer, their bodies get more charged up.
I:  If you are cold-blooded, you need to get warm. 

How would we tell time if we didn’t have clocks? 
R:  By morning and night.
N:  The sun and the moon.
P:  By when it gets cold or warm.  Seasons changing.

What are clues that the seasons are changing?
I:  When leaves change, it is autumn.  Then it’s winter.
M:  People could tell if it’s summer and spring because there are butterflies and flowers blooming.  In summer, you can get sunburned.
A.L.:  It snows in winter.
W:  When the leaves drop and there is no color, then it is winter.

What else can an animal do besides hibernate?  If an animal senses that the seasons are changing, what are some strategies that they can use?
J:  Birds can make a hole in the tree.
P:  They can eat while food is around.
A.L.:  They can fly to Mexico!
J:  Migration!
W: If you are an animal and you can’t tell time, then it is bad because you might be in danger. 

How do animals know when to hibernate or when to fly south?
W: You can’t tell the seasons with a watch.
A.L.: Snow rabbits change [the color of] their fur.  When it gets cold, it just happens. 
R:  When I was at a soccer game, I heard someone say that you should use I-95 South to go to North Carolina…

1 comment:

  1. This is all incredible, Christine you are a gift that will bless these children for years to come!!!

    Thank you for what you do!!