Catching frogs, toads, butterflies, snakes, salamanders, all kinds of wildlife—most kids love to do it…I love to do it! But I struggle with the practice. I’ll find a toad in the yard, call the kids over to see it, they catch it, and I start saying, “Be careful,” “Don’t hurt it,” “Don’t drop the toad.” I become so worried about the animal’s safety that I squash the experience. I’m working on this and think I am making progress.
After a recent storm, our yard was hopping. Every time I took a step, a frog or toad hopped away from my foot. At one point, I spied a wood frog and called Aurora. She came running, caught the frog, and put it in a container. As I watched the frog frantically trying to hop out of the container, I stifled the statement, “Be careful, don’t hurt it!” and said instead, “Let’s think about what the frog needs to be comfortable in that container.” Then, I walked to the side yard where we had found the frog. Aurora followed. I asked her to take a look at the natural materials in that part of the yard—rocks, soil, plants, etc. She saw moss, dried leaves, rocks, and sticks and collected some of each, took them back to the container, and recreated the wood frog’s habitat. When she was finished, we watched the frog together. The frog sat still on the moss, seeming content with the environment. So in the end, a win-win-win situation was created. The frog was safe, Aurora was able to really watch the frog and feel proud that she had figured out how to replicate an animal’s habitat, and I was able to share a positive learning experience with Aurora.