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Frog Hibernation

Mountain Yellow Legged Frog

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog in San Jacinto area of San Bernardino National Forest.

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog in San Jacinto area of San Bernardino National Forest.

Do frogs hibernate?

Today we will become hibernating frogs. Snuggle down in the mud, bury down below the frost line. Hands-on activities to understand how and why frogs hibernate...

  1. Do frogs hibernate?
  2. Where do frogs go when the weather gets extreme?
  3. What do frogs do in the winter when ponds and lakes freeze over?
  4. What happens when frog ponds dry up in summer heat?
  5. Where do the frogs go?

Frogs, like other amphibians, must keep their skin moist in order to breathe. What can they do to protect themselves from heat and cold?

Frogs are Cold Blooded!

What does it mean to be Cold Blooded?

We have heard that frogs are cold blooded but what does that mean?

Children need to experience things to truly understand the concepts. How can we help children understand just what cold blooded means?

Cold blooded animals such as frogs can not regulate their internal temperatures. Frogs regulate their temperatures by moving in and out of the sun; in and out of the water.

To get a feeling for how frogs can adapt to temperature changes, we begin by having a discussion about where we can experience different temperatures.

When I teach I like begin each new topic by gathering the children together, read a story on the topic and then lead a discussion to create a list of questions we may have as well as to make a list of facts or assumptions we may have.

We revisit these questions and statements often as our investigations continue.

Sometimes we discover that statements we thought were facts turn out not to be true. As we explore, many times we discover new facts as well as questions that had never occured to us before.

  • To set the tone I like to ask the children, as they sit on the rug, to pretend to be a frog at room temperature. Relax and feel how the temperature seems to drop as you stay still.
  • Tell the children that they are frogs and need to find a place to warm up. They should hop over to the wood stove, heater, campfire or sun.
  • Feel the heat. When you are warm or getting hot, move to the shade in order to cool down.
  • After you have explored the feeling of being a frog regulating your temperature by moving from sun to shade, sit down in a comfortable spot and read a book about cold blooded animals.

One of our favorite books is the Magic Schoolbus Sleeps for the Winter by Eva Moore. What are some of your favorite books for helping children understand this concept?

Frogs Absorb Oxygen Through Their Skin

Human Hands Absorb Water Through Their Skin Too!

Frogs need to keep their skin wet because they breathe through their skin. This can be a difficult concept for children to understand unless they have some hands-on experience. Here is a fun experiment that will help children understand how water can pass though skin.

  1. Fill a bowl or basin with warm water
  2. Set a timer for five minutes
  3. Put one hand in the water and leave it there
  4. Keep the other hand dry
  5. When the timer rings, take your wet hand out and closely observe the differences between your two hands

Lead a discussion to note the changes and relate these changes to our topic of the need for frogs to regulate their body temperature as the weather changes as well as the need for them to keep their skin moist in order to breathe:

  • Do you see the wrinkles?
  • Do you see the puffiness?
  • This is because water has passed though your skin into your hands.
  • There is not enough oxygen in the water for us as humans to breathe this way but there is for frogs.
  • This is why frogs must keep their skin wet.
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But how can frogs breathe through their skin in winter or during a hot summer drought?

Frogs in the Mud

Creating a Frog Sensory Habitat Bin

Hibernaculum is the scientific word for the burrows or refuge place where frogs and other creatures hide in a dormant state to survive cold winter temperatures.

Today in the sensory bin children will help their frogs find a place to sleep for the winter.

  1. Gather potting soil, mud, water, and some plastic frogs
  2. Arrange them in a sensory bin or rice table
  3. Invite the children to explore the frog's habitat
  4. Add dried leaves, a hollow log and a curved chunk of bark
  5. Invite the children to help the frogs hide from the cold winds of winter

Now gather the children as ask them what they discovered about when creating spaces for the frogs to hibernate.

Frogs in the Mud

Green Spotted Frog in the Mud

Green Spotted Frog in the Mud

Do Frogs Hibernate in the Summer?

Set up a sensory table with wet mud and plastic frogs. Have a hot task light focused on the table to create the feel of a summer pond that is drying up.

Being cold blooded, frogs change their activity levels to adapt to the temperatures around them.

When summer temperatures get too hot they may bury themselves in the mud for protection and to rest.

This is not hibernation because their heartbeats do not slow down.

They continue to breathe because they can absorb oxygen through their skin even in the mud.

To help children understand how mud can help to protect frogs from the summer heat...

  1. Set up a dish pan with mud and water
  2. Place a heat lamp over the water
  3. Warn the children to be careful not to spash water on the lamp
  4. Invite the children to hold their hands above the water level feeling the heat
  5. Then they hold their hands in the water and notice how the heat penetrates the water
  6. Finally have them put their hands all the way down into the mud.


Frog's Skin needs to stay Moist

Notice how cool the mud feels. The mud helps the frogs maintain their proper body temperature.

Notice also how the mud feels wet helping frogs to keep their skin moist.

Allow the children to explore the pond. Not only do their hands also turn wrinkly but their skin is absorbing water just like a frog's skin does.

They may also notice that the mud is cooler than the water and mud will help protect the frog from drying out.

Frog's skin needs to stay moist at all times..

Helping the Frogs Hibernate!

How do Frogs Survive the Winter?

In the Sensory Table create a frog habitat

  • moist potting soil
  • a plastic frog
  • probe thermometer
  • temperature gun
  • sheets of ice (freeze water in a cookie sheet)
  1. Invite the children to tuck their frogs down into the moist soil or mud.
  2. Use the probe thermometer to record the temperature below the surface next to the frog.
  3. Use the temperature gun to record the temperature at the surface.
  4. Place the sheet of ice on the surface and record the temperature of the ice.
  5. Set a timer for 15 minutes and

Record those temperatures every 15 minutes all day. What do you observe?

Why are Frogs Wet?

Leave comments about frog hibernation activities...

Tell us about your thoughts on frog hibernation.

  1. What did you know about frog hibernation before reading this article?
  2. What have you learned about frog hibernation from reading this article and trying the activities suggested here.
  3. Did you kids enjoy becoming hibernating frogs?

Speaking of Frog Hibernation! - Frog Hibernation Guestbook

Lee Hansen from Vermont on April 17, 2013:

I've loved frogs since I was a toddler. I took a giant bullfrog I'd caught to class when I was in elementary school for show and tell, It was a big hit, especially with the boys!

bbsoulful2 on April 14, 2013:

Evelyn, I ALWAYS love your lenses. This is outstanding, and beautiful to look at. Blessed by a Giant Squid.

Kumar P S on May 04, 2012:

Great lens !

sherridan on May 02, 2012:

What a lovely lens! And the main photo is simply delightful!

dwnovacek on May 01, 2012:

Love this lens! I learned a lot about frog hibernation and love the pictures you chose to go with the articles. Having a degree in Biology, I thought I knew all there was to know about frog hibernation - but I was wrong! :) Angel Blessed!

Fcuk Hub on April 30, 2012:

Interesting lens about frog hibernation :)

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