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For STEM Friday we are highlighting a fantastic book for upper elementary-aged children, Amazing Amphibians: 30 Activities and Observations for Exploring Frogs, Toads, Salamanders, and More by Lisa J. Amstutz (her website).

If you've never experienced one of the Young Naturalists series books from Chicago Review Press, you are in for a real treat. These books are designed not only for children who are independent researchers interested in a topic -- in this case amphibians -- but also for educators who need information and age-appropriate activity ideas for science lessons.

Lisa Amstutz's text covers everything readers will want to know:

  • What an amphibian is
  • What animals belong to the different families
  • Amphibian anatomy
  • What amphibians eat
  • Their life cycles
  • Some of the threats to amphibians
  • And much more!

It is also filled with amazing facts. Did you know that the North American wood frog can survive being frozen solid? How about that some amphibians can absorb water from moist soil by sitting on it because they have specially absorptive skin on their bellies? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to drink that way?

The activities (30 of them!) will keep young scientists engaged for hours. They range from making fake frog eggs from water beads to making your yard more toad friendly.

Some readers may initially think less of the book when they learn the illustrations are color stock photographs, with many coming from Wikimedia Commons. The quality of stock photographs, however, is determined by the person curating them and in this case the photographs are the highest standard, well-matched to the text and to each other.

The back matter is a treasure trove filled with goodies such as a table of the different amphibian orders, lists of resources, and a teacher's guide with even more ideas for activities.

Personal Note:  I absolutely love these Chicago Review Press books and I use them all the time. The activities encourage the type of hands-on learning that develops fine motor skills so useful later in life. They also reinforce learning. Let's face it, touching a fake frog egg made out of a water bead engages more senses than simply reading about eggs on the page.

The bottom line is Amazing Amphibians is an exceptionally well organized and well written introduction to a fascinating group of animals. It is perfect for young naturalists and scientists. It is also a must-have resource for educators. Investigate a copy today!

Related Activities:

Not that a book loaded with oodles of hands-on activities needs any more, but let's celebrate Amazing Amphibians by making a tiny book about frogs, toads, and salamanders to share with younger children.

1. Download the Tiny Amphibian Book Template (PDF) - (click on image that pops up to load).

2. Print out on white paper.

3. Fold using the instructions in the video below. Make the cut along the line shown in the photo.

4. Talk about the illustrations in the tiny book and research any questions that arise. Decorate and add information to your book to make it your own.

Please let me know if you have any problems folding it.

Older children can make a handmade scientific notebook as suggested on page 3 of Amazing Amphibians.

For more frog and toad science activity suggestions, see our previous posts:

  1. Summer Sounds: Frogs and Toads
  2. Frog and Toad Science Activities, includes toad anatomy and building a toad house
  3. A Frog's Life book and activities, includes link to a citizen's science project.

Age Range: 7 - 9 years
Publisher: Chicago Review Press; First edition (January 7, 2020)
ISBN-10: 1641600721
ISBN-13: 978-1641600729

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

Let's celebrate STEM Friday with another great picture book nominated for a Cybils award:  A Frog's Life by Irene Kelly and illustrated by Margherita Borin.

When you pick up the book, the first things that catch your eye are the brightly colored frogs on the cover. Margherita Borin's watercolor, pen and pencil illustrations leap off the page. They are both marvelously accurate and cleverly put together in ways that will make young readers smile. For example, the critters that frogs eat (flies, beetles, etc.) are grouped into a frog shape, as through they are inside an invisible frog. Fun!

The text takes readers on a journey into the world of frogs. They will learn what frogs are, where frogs live (their habitats), compare the biggest to the smallest, and find out about their life cycles.

Did you know that frogs molt their skins? When they are done, they eat the shed skin. You can see a frog eating it's skin in this video. (It is slimier than I expected.)

The best part of the book is all the different kinds of frogs identified in the illustrations. Look for the Vietnamese mossy frog, the giant monkey frog, and the Madagascar tomato frog. Yes, those are real names!

A Frog's Life will delight young readers interested in nature, animals, and particularly in frogs. Hop on over to your local library or book store, and pick up a copy today!

Related Activity Suggestions:

  1. Learn about frog anatomy and life cycles with science activities at our previous post.
  2. Check the Frog Watch Citizen Science project website for lists of frogs and toads by state, most of which include recordings of their songs. You can also find out how to become a Frog Watch volunteer.
  3. A puzzle:  A number of years ago we visited the California Academy of Sciences. In a large exhibit that featured live birds, butterflies, and leafcutter ants, we spotted the strawberry frogs in the plant below.

Do you notice anything about them? Let us know in the comments.

Want more information? Visit our growing list of children's books about frogs and toads at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Holiday House (May 8, 2018)
ISBN-10: 0823426017
ISBN-13: 978-0823426010

Disclosure: This book was provided by our local library. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books. Note: this is a new link as of 10/2018.