Toad-ally Learning


Nature is determined to get in touch with us.  We live in a suburb – surrounded by similar but not identical houses.  Small grassy yards, ours has a fence.  It’s a nice suburb, but to someone who grew up in the woods it’s a pale imitation of nature.  Thankfully we have a nice little lake right in front of our house; we can look out and see the herons frog-gigging, the dratted Canadian geese swarming our yard, and the many red-winged blackbirds, cardinals, and blue birds who come to visit.

This year we’ve had an implosion of cotton-tail rabbits (ate our veggie garden twice) a duck made a nest right by our front steps, a snake left its shed skin in our front flower bed, and a black swallowtail laid eggs on our fennel in the front garden.  We routinely sit at the front windows and watch the butterflies around our dwarf buddlia, and go check for hornworm caterpillars on our tomato plants.

This time, nature gifted us with a toad.  A fat, happy, sluggish toad.  When Mr. Genius took the dog out before we went to bed, they found a toad just sitting in the middle of the sidewalk looking at them.  Dog wanted to play.  Mr. Genius called me instead.

So the kids woke up this morning and had breakfast with a toad.

We let him go after breakfast, as I’m sure he was hungry and tired of being in the critter keeper all night.  I plopped him in our front flower beds with a special clay pot to use for a house.  Toads live for 10 years in good conditions, and I’m hoping we’ll see more toad around here.  They’re great for insect control!

The Engineer was excitedly talking about our “frog” and asking where did I find the tadpole and raise it to be that big?  When told it wasn’t a frog, he paused for a brief second and announced that it was a toad.  I asked why he thought that – he said the skin wasn’t smooth like a frog.  Wow!  He really learned a lot from our tadpole raising experiment this spring.

We’re heading into fall with its cooler temperatures and inviting outdoors.  Summers around here can get hot and miserable, so spring and fall are when we spend most of our time outside.   It’s time to identify leaves, do bark rubbings, ooh and ahh over fall asters, and collect acorns in all shapes and sizes.  I love fall!

Maybe if we’re lucky we’ll meet that giant snapping turtle again.  He lives somewhere around our lake and once ventured up in front of our house.

I’m reminded all over again just how lucky we are to be able to homeschool.  Not every kid can have breakfast with a toad.


  1. So lucky to be able to eat breakfast with a toad! Even homeschooling, not all moms would let their kids do that. Very lucky kids, and super great mom!


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