What you need

  1. Blackboard or poster-size pad of paper
  2. Chalk or markers
  3. Paper
  4. Pencils
  5. A shoebox (with one long side cut away) for each student
  6. Art materials such as colored construction paper, colored tissue paper, blue mylar or shiny wrapping paper, paint, glue, pipe cleaners, twist ties (for insect bodies and wings), stones, twigs, peat moss 


What to do

      1. Tell the students they are going to compare what they need to live to what a frog needs.

      2. Pass out the paper and pencils.

      3. Ask the students to draw a line down the center of the paper. On the left column, they should write the title: “What I need.”

      4. Tell them to imagine that they have been shipwrecked and have washed ashore on an island. There are no other survivors or people on the island.

      5. In the left-hand column, ask them to list what they would need to survive. They should start with the most important things first. Give them three to five minutes to do this task.

      6. Divide the blackboard or paper in half and title the left column “What people need.” Ask students to give you items from their lists. Discuss why these items are important.

      7. Ask students to write the title “What frogs need” on top of the right column on their paper. Ask them to write down what they think frogs need to survive. Remind them to think about what they learned about the life cycle of frogs since eggs, tadpoles, and adults may each need different things and a frog-friendly habitat should include them all. Give the students three to five minutes and then ask them to stop.

      8. Write the same title on the right side of the board and ask students to give you their ideas. As you write the ideas down, ask why the student thinks this item is important for frogs.

      9. Compare the lists and draw lines between items that are the same, similar, or related. How many were the same and how many were different?

      10. Ask the students to use the materials provided to make a frog-friendly habitat in a shoe box. They should add things that reflect the items on the list they created. They should include shelter, water, and food. They can include other animals and plants that could be found in that habitat. They should make a list of the things they have included in their habitat and attach the list to the outside of the box.

        Optional: If you want to study vernal pools, students can do some research and make their habitat a vernal pool.

      11. Discuss some of the questions below. Students may want to add items to their habitat based on the discussion.

      12. Have a “frog visit” by having students set up a display of their habitat boxes in the classroom. You may want to invite a group of younger students to visit. Your class can put on a short frog skit, read or act out a frog story, or report on what they learned about frogs. You may also want to play a tape of frog sounds while students look at the other students’ habitat boxes.



      • Why could it be harmful to a frog to pick it up from one location and put it back in another location?

      • What would it be like if you were dropped off in a strange neighborhood and did not know how to find your way home?

      • If you introduced fish into your habitat that ate frog’s eggs or insect larvae, how might that change your frog population?

      • What could happen to your frog population if a road was constructed through your habitat so that your frogs had to cross it to get to water?

      • What if your habitat did not provide any protection from the sun for your frogs and their eggs?

      • Why might you want to have frogs living in your backyard? (Hint: Think about what they eat.)



habitat: n. the area where an animal, plant, or microorganism lives and finds the nutrients, water, sunlight, shelter, living space, and other essentials it needs to survive. Habitat loss, which includes the destruction, degradation, and fragmentation of habitats, is the primary cause of biodiversity loss.

ecosystem: n. a community of plants, animals, and microorganisms that are linked by energy and nutrient flows and that interact with each other and with the physical environment. Rain forests, deserts, coral reefs, grasslands, and a rotting log are all examples of ecosytems.

Definitions from “Windows on the Wild: Biodiversity Basics,”© 1999 World Wildife Fund.