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Updated on November 30, 2014

Tadpoles are Baby Frogs

Baby frogs don't look anything like their adult parents. Brown or black tadpoles show no signs of the hopping green frogs they may turn into.

Once frogs hatch from their eggs they become tadpoles. Tadpoles have tails and gills. They live in the water and have no legs.

Growing up we always looked forward to spring when frogs laid their eggs and hatched into tadpoles. When I was teaching first grade we placed a mass of frog eggs in a sensory table so that the children could observe as the tadpoles hatched and began swimming around.

Today we will be exploring the lives of tadpoles. Come on down to the frog pond to watch the tadpoles wiggle their tails, hover over a rock or swim through the water.

Tadpoles or Polliwogs

Tadpoles grow into Frogs
Tadpoles grow into Frogs | Source

The Tadpole Problem

Practicing math word problems with tadpoles.

If we had 25 tadpoles hatch on Wednesday and double that hatched on Thursday and on Friday 50 more hatched. How many tadpoles would you have by Friday?

As an adult you have probably learned to ignore the frogs and tadpoles and just add up the numbers. Most children, however, have not had enough concrete experiences to make sense of such large numbers. That is where the beads come in.

We use small black and white alphabet beads to help with figuring out these problems. If you use a lot of imagination, they look like frog eggs ready to hatch.

Photo Credit: Tadpoles

Public Domain Image

Life Cycle of the Frog - Frog Puzzle Center

In the Frog Puzzle center we have a variety of Frog Related Puzzles. These puzzles about the life cycle of the Frog encourage children to discuss and reflect on information we are learning as frogs grow from egg to tadpole to adult frog.

Tadpoles for the Tadpole Problem - Frog Eggs Hands-on Math Materials

Plastic Alphabet Beads 7mm Round 70 grams (about 150 beads) White w/ Black Letters
Plastic Alphabet Beads 7mm Round 70 grams (about 150 beads) White w/ Black Letters

Don't these little letter beads look like frog eggs? Store them in a clear plastic fillable Christmas Ornament and then use them for a Word Work Station. Children can make words with the frog eggs. Some children like to string them. Others like to lay down a blue felt cloth, pretend it is a frog pond and make words on the pond.

Package of 12 - 100mm Clear Acrylic Fillable Ornaments
Package of 12 - 100mm Clear Acrylic Fillable Ornaments

Fill these clear Christmas ornaments with letter beads to resemble frog eggs. How many do you think will hatch into tadpoles?


1. Spray paint one side of 10 Lima Beans black.

Use black permanent marker to make tadpole eyes on the white side and whiteout or white acrylic paint to make tadpole faces on the black side.

2. Use the black marker to decorate a white plastic egg to look like a mass of frog eggs. You might use a Fillable Christmas Ornament as an alternative to white plastic easter eggs. The Christmas ornaments are round like frog eggs.

3. Spray the egg and the Lima Bean Tadpoles with fixative to keep the paint from wearing off.

Cheap hairspray work great as a fixative.

4. Hot Glue on a yarn or felt tail.

5. Make a blue felt pond for a workmat.

6. Store everything in a shallow labeled box.

Children shake the egg with the tadpoles out onto the mat and record the number of albino and normal tadpoles. ie: 8+2+10

Package of 12 - 100mm Clear Acrylic Fillable Ornaments
Package of 12 - 100mm Clear Acrylic Fillable Ornaments

This clear ball snaps apart and can be filled with Lima Bean Tadpoles to resemble a mass of frog eggs.


Tell us about your experiences with tadpoles. Did you ever watch them hatch from eggs? Did you ever watch a tadpole nibble on the edge of a rock? Did you ever see a tadpole develop legs and grown into an adult frog?

Tadpole Tales - Talking about Tadpoles

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