I've had a few questions about my living science centers. I'm going to answer those as I show you the tadpole center we have in our library right now.
Here's what you see:
1) Frog books on display. Non-fiction, fiction, picture books, poetry...any and all frog books I can find go on this display for students to browse through and check out. Finding all of the frog books is a GREAT job for a student helper. I put a few titles on display, then replace them as students check them out.
You and I know that books are more appealing when you can see the cover, and a learning center is a great space to display books face out.
If I ran out of frog books, I would put toad books, lizard books, and anything else somewhat related to the tadpoles.
2)Chair. I really need to just move this chair out of the way. Students tend to stand around, leaning forward to look into the tank.
3) Markers and a chart. I like for the students to record their observations, sometimes in words, sometimes in drawings. Students in various grades will be writing on this chart and will be reading each other's observations.
As you may be able to see from the photo at the top, the circulation desk is just to the right of this center. My assistant and I are nearby to interact with students and to make sure that inappropriate comments don't become part of our chart.
4) Tadpoles in a tank. We have plenty of ponds nearby, with tadpoles there for the taking. It's important to put pond water in your tank. The chemicals in tap water can kill the tadpoles.
I also have a rock in there, so that the little frogs can get out of the water when they grow to that point. I have water plants, too. I feed the tadpoles algae tablets that you can get at the pet food store. They dissolve in the water and make it look greener and slimier.
I learned how to take care of tadpoles from this library book, Growing Frogs, by Vivian French.
The live animals have been one of our most engaging library centers. Many classroom teachers don't have the time or inclination to deal with the care of animals. In the library, our tadpoles have grown their back legs, and we're all watching to see when the front stubs, then legs will appear!
I'll admit that I have shrieked a couple of times when trying to get live crickets into the frog tank. But I've always had students nearby who've rescued me by grabbing the cricket and throwing it into the tank. (That's one reason I like tadpoles better than frogs--their food doesn't jump!)
Have you tried an animal center in your library? Are you willing to try?