Explore and investigate all about the pond ecosystem and the animals that live there! A pond theme is always a hit in the classroom. It is a fun theme to do in the spring, summer, or fall. I’m going to share some pond-themed, hands-on activities you can do with your little learners to make learning FUN and play-based. Now, grab your lesson plan book and let’s jump right in. Make sure you grab the fun freebies I made for you too! The rubber ducks and green frogs are from the Dollar Tree in the baby bath section.
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FREE Frog Directed Drawing! I like to sprinkle in directed drawings throughout the year because it is a great listening activity, which also boosts kids’ confidence in their artistic abilities. It teaches students how to draw an object piece by piece, step-by-step. My favorite things to use are oil pastels because the colors are bright and you can see them through the watercolor. Oil pastels can be expensive so I break each one into three pieces to share among the students. Also, drawing with broken, small tools is great for developing their pencil grasp. What I do is model each step, while talking through how to draw the shape or line. Then I give the students an opportunity to do the same step. At the end, they can paint their drawing with watercolors!
Pond Process Art! Create a few shades of blue and green paint for this project. Then cut out pink tissue paper circles (flowers) and crepe paper lily pads. Fold the crepe paper back and forth so you can cut out a bunch at once to save time.
Students paint the water first. Then glue the lily pads in the paint. (We did this step when the paint was still wet.) Lastly, students crumble up the pink tissue paper circles and glue them on top of the lily pads.
Duck Letter Match! Cut a pond from blue paper and place a large green piece of green paper under it to create a pond. Write uppercase or lowercase letters in the pond. I didn’t want to write on my ducks (Dollar Tree) so I wrote letters on stickers and stuck them to the ducks. Then I noticed I didn’t have enough ducks for the whole alphabet so I put stickers on green cubes as well and we pretended they were lily pads. Students match the duck and cube letters in the pond. You could also do this with numbers for a fun number recognition game!
Dragonfly Letter Sort and Color Sort! Cover the table with butcher paper and draw different colored dragonflies on it with markers. Then place out baskets of magnet letters and bug counters. For extra fun, place the bugs in a bug catcher. My pre-k students picked a letter, identified it, said the sound or a word that begins with that letter if they could, and placed it on the matching dragonfly. My young three-year-olds picked a bug, identified the color, and placed it on the matching dragonfly.
Pond Writing Center! Put out pond-themed writing paper, word cards (uppercase and lowercase vocabulary cards), pre-writing cards, pond stickers, and fun writing tools to keep students engaged and excited about writing.
Pond Writing Tray! Grab a pencil box and add some blue sand or color salt blue. It’s simple to color salt too. Just place salt in a baggie with some liquid watercolor, shake, and place on a tray to dry. Add a stick and some gems to the tray. Students pick a frog letter card, write the letter in the “pond” with the stick, and build the letter with the gems!
If your students are getting sand everywhere, simply place a tray under the pencil box to catch all the sand.
Pond Letter Mats! If you want a less messy handwriting activity, then these mats are perfect! Students pick a letter card, write the letter, and trace it with gems or other small manipulative. Frogs on a Log Sight Words! Use the same frog letter cards and make sight words. Pick a sight word and build it with the frog letter cards.
Beaver Rhyme Time! My students always love games where they feed an animal so I made this fun beaver rhyme game for our pond theme. I like to play this game after I read a rhyming book during circle time.
Pond Books! I am working on a huge pond booklist for you, but you can spy some of my favorites on this shelf. My favorite book is One Duck Stuck, which is a rhyming book where all the animals help get the duck unstuck. My other favorites are Over in a River, In the Small Small Pond, and Fish Eyes.
Five Frogs Story Props! Counting books are so much fun to read during circle time with little learners, and they are easy to make story props for. Cut out a pond from paper and make a log by cutting a paper towel tube in half. Then add number stickers to the log and each frog so students can identify and match the numbers as we read. As you read, remove the frogs and count them to see how many are left. Then place the story props in the library center for students to do independently during centers.
You can also easily make story props to go with the book Five Little Ducks too!
Pattern Snakes! Cover the table with blue paper and draw some snakes on the paper with a black marker. Place round counters, pom poms, or cubes out for students to create pattern snakes with.
Pound Count! Cut out a pond from blue paper and lily pads from green foam (write numbers on them). Then grab pond mini erasers, flies, frog counters, ducks, and/or rocks. Students identify the number, count out the matching number of manipulatives, and place it on the lily pad.
Turtle Puzzles! Make turtle puzzles with green paper plates. Take a green paper plate (Dollar Tree) then tape a head and four legs to it. Students use sticky foam shapes to fill the shell. Students have to arrange, twist, turn, and move the shapes to make them fit on the plate just like a puzzle and developed their spatial sense. For extra fun, have students make a pattern around the edge of the shell!
Pond Counting Mats! Students pick a card, identify the number, and place it on the mat.
Pond Addition Mats! Maybe some of your students are ready for a challenge! If they are, these addition pond mats are perfect for them. Students pick two cards and place the matching number in the pond. Then count the total to find the answer!
Duck Counting On! Counting on can be tricky so grab some ducks and let’s make it a game. Students start from a given number and keep counting. You can line up the rubber duckies for students to line up, manipulate, and count on first. Then they do it on the printable.
Pond Sensory Table! Dye a big batch of rice blue for the pond then add blue gems and sequins! Cut some more lily pads from green foam for the frogs to sit on. Then add small green and blue plastic shot glasses, tweezers, and tree logs or sticks. You can write numbers or letters on the frogs and lily pads if you wish to sneak in more learning at the sensory table.
Pond STEM Building Challenges! Add fun building materials and props for students to build pond habitats with! Add rocks, sticks, lily pads (I made from green foam), lily flowers (Dollar Tree), frogs, ducks, and blue felt that students can pretend to be water. Add some non-fiction books and pond STEM I Can Build posters for students to use as a reference as they build. Maybe your students have never seen a pond so post real photos of ponds to build their background knowledge.
FREE Pond Playdough Mats! Strengthen those fine motor muscles and problem-solving skills with these playdough mats. Playdough is my favorite way to develop those little fingers, hands, and wrists. I added the vocabulary word at the bottom for students to finger trace or trace with a dry erase marker so sneak in some fun letter writing practice too. Grab the FREEBIE here.
Pond Playdough Tray! At least one day every week, I put a play dough tray out for morning table time because students LOVE them! As a BONUS, so much learning occurs when they play with a playdough tray. Students are developing fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, STEM and engineering concepts, social reasoning as they sculpt and build, social skills (share, trace, and take turns using the materials), themed vocabulary, oral language as they talk with their friends, and more! This tray has blue gems, green gems, rocks, lily pads (I made from green foam), small craft sticks, plastic small leaves, ducks, frogs, and play dough.
Pond Science Center! Investigate frogs or a pond habitat at the science center. Explore the lifecycle of a frog and parts of a frog. Put a stuffed animal frog at the science for students to examine to make it more hands-on. You can also explore what animals and plants live at a pond. Measure, examine and sort the animal figures.
Camping Dramatic Play! If you want to take the pond theme into dramatic play, change it into a campsite with a pond. Check out how HERE.
I hope your lesson plan book or planning web is packed with tons of fun ideas that I inspired with this post! Don’t forget to grab the Pond Play Dough Mat & Frog Directed Drawing FREEBIE HERE. If you need all the printables, grab the Pond Math and Literacy Centers HERE and the Pond Science Unit HERE!