Kitty has been learning about tadpoles and frogspawn at nursery. I think they’ve had some in to look at and to touch very gently and she’s found it rather fun. She’s certainly been talking about tadpoles a lot recently. And in doing so we discovered just how difficult it is to describe frogspawn to a two year old who’s never seen it. Elma just got more and more confused as we tried to explain jelly with little eggs in them that turned into frogs so we decided that on Sunday afternoon we would go down to the woods to see if we could find some.
Foundry Woods is a really sweet little miniature wood in an undeveloped corner of Leamington between the two railways lines. We’ve been there before because its gentle circular walk is the perfect length for little legs, and then afterwards we can go over the road to the park and have a go on the swings. It has a little pond along one side and that’s where we headed as I though there was a good chance of finding something fun to look at, but the pond seems to be struggling, it wasn’t as lush as the last time we went there and our most exciting discoveries were pond skaters and a clump of marsh marigold kingcup.
But the girls seemed to be enjoying themselves so we pottered on, and as we came around the corner to the outdoor classroom I smelled smoke. They have a fire pit and an outdoor clay oven so my first thought was that they had an activity on and I might make good on the promise of something fun. But smoke doesn’t generally billow out of the open sided barn that’s used for the classroom, nor is there Forest School on a Sunday. And with one of those heart sinking moments I realised that what was smoking was the charred and glowing embers of the straw bales stacked along the back wall for seating, and what was now crackling and spitting was the start of the fence at the back going up in flames.
So we called 999. And because it was a small fire in the middle of a wood it all felt slightly surreal and a little bit naughty. I think I half expected to be told off for having called them! We walked back down to the gate to wait for the fire engine and then took the firemen back up to show them where it was and then chatted as they headed up into the wood with proper fire axes, presumably to cut away the bits of the barn that were burning and let them burn out in the fire pit.
Elma stared open mouthed at the fire engine, Kitty, with a few more years giving her a slightly stronger sense of danger was a little nervous and very keen to be a long long way away from the fire, and Pip, well Pip went to sleep; nothing phases that boy. It wasn’t quite what I was planning for the afternoon, but I think I made good on my promise that it would be exciting.
Which brings us, in a very convoluted, tales of fire engines sort of way to what we’ve been reading this week, because this is the book that explains frogspawn. And a few other things as well.
What Will I Be calls itself an ‘uncover and discover’ book; each chapter starts with a picture of a baby animal and a few clues, and when you lift the flap there is the ‘toddler’ version, a Polar Bear cub from a Polar Bear baby, or a baby bird from an egg.
And then on the next spread of pages, four pictures spell out the rest of the lifecycle; the tadpole grows legs, turns into a frog and eventually comes back to the pond to lay their own frogspawn.
It’s actually really informative, did you know that turtles spend years and years and years at sea before they go back to their beach to lay eggs, they mature much more slowly than I thought, and it’s a very approachable way to introduce little ones to the natural world.
The illustrations are just so cute too, I love the expression on the tadpole.
And at the very end there’s a little game to match them all up in pairs.
So much of Kitty and Elma’s library is magic and fairytales and animals that speak that it’s nice to add in a little balance every now and then, and despite this being aimed at boys and with a little boy at the end, this is a favourite with both girls, not so much a bedtime story but one for exploring and talking about.
Kitty has a pre-school trip to a pond soon to see some really frogspawn and I can’t wait to see what she makes of it.
If you have read something lovely recently, please do put your link in the comments section and shout to the world – and we’ll all come and have a read! Last week Jess from Splashes and Dashes of Yellow kicked off with a favourite Jacqueline Wilson story; I know of Jacqueline Wilson (who doesn’t!) but I can’t say that I’ve read any of her books, they were published just after I was that sort of age and I’ve yet to discover them with Kitty. But as we’re just starting to get into chapter books for bedtime stories, more on which another week, I know what I want to add to my reading list. And Jess and Rosalie have discovered yet another Julia Donaldson book that I didn’t know about! Hide and Seek Pig looks like a great companion to our Fox’s Socks and I know two little girls who would just love it!
What We’re Reading is a weekly round up of posts about children’s books. That’s about as far as the ‘rules’ go; it can be picture books, baby books, books for older children or even young adult if you like; just come and join us by hopefully linking up below to tell us what you’ve been reading recently. Or if you’d rather join in on Instagram or Twitter that would be wonderful too, just use the hashtag #whatweread and tag me (@cariemay on Instagram and @cariemaymakes on Twitter) and then we can all come and say hi.