Hatching frog and/or toad eggs in your classroom is easy and fun, but it requires some special equipment. You’ll need an aquarium with a filtering system. You can easily purchase a 5 or 10 gallon set at many discount stores, often for less than $10.00. A thermometer (you can use a student thermometer) and a heater are also a good investment. You’ll also need a fish net, and some live water plants (collect them with the eggs), or fish food, such as Tetraflakes or wheat germ pellets.
Students can learn a lot as you set up the aquarium in your classroom, so let them help you as much as possible. Make sure it is working properly before you collect the eggs. Fill it a little more than half full of water. Change at least one-fourth of the water in the tank every 2-3 days. Treat tap water with a dechlorinator (get it from a pet store), or let the water sit for 24 hours before putting it in the aquarium. The chlorine will evaporate out. Make sure the filter system is working and plenty of air is getting into the water. Measure the temperature of the water over a few days. It needs to be between 40-80 degrees. The warmer the water, the faster the eggs will hatch. Provide some stable stones so that the emerging frogs will be able to climb out of the water. Anchor some live plants, such as anacharis, under the stones. Then, get your kiddos on the lookout for eggs in the neighborhood!
The best way to get eggs is to gather them from a natural waterway in your area. Parks, green belts, even a friend’s water garden are easy sources. Bring a couple of large jars and a fish net, and you’re ready to go. Toad eggs are laid in long strings, looking a little like black pearls on a chain. Frog eggs are lighter in color and laid in clumps, often attached underneath plant leaves. Fill your jars up with water from the source. You’ll use this water in the aquarium, at least at first. Then scoop up some eggs and put them in the water.
As soon as you get the eggs to your classroom, replace as much of the water in the aquarium with the pond water as you can. This will give the eggs a little head start. Gently float the eggs into the aquarium.
Keeping the water clean and healthy is the most important part of this process. Again, change about one-fourth of the water every 2-3 days. Change it every day once the eggs start hatching to clean the debris out, then return to the original schedule.
The eggs will probably hatch within 2-3 weeks. Algae is a tadpole’s natural food, so don’t be too fussy about cleaning it all out. Of course, you don’t want it to overtake the tank, but your little critters will need a lot of food, so let them have it. Once the frogs begin to emerge, you can buy some crickets or worms for them to eat.
Once the frogs are ready to return to the wild, just net them, put them in a secure box, and return them to the place from which the eggs were collected!
This is an easy, exciting, and hugely educational experience, and it goes a long way in teaching our students to love and cherish nature.