Activities: Magic Words
Suggested Grades 2-6
Using poetry to compare and contrast humans and frogs.
How are human life and frog life similar and how are they different?
Humans and frogs have a significant bond that transcends the biological
connections. What child hasn't followed a frog or been fascinated by its
moist skin and long legs? Not only are they important bio-indicators of
environmental health they are remarkable and complex creatures. Throughout
history and in many different cultures people have written stories about
frogs. Check out some of the fictional selections listed below. The internet
resources section includes additional stories that you might want to share
with your students.
The Frog Prince by the brothers' Grimm
The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka and Steve Johnson
The Frog, an Italian tale
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
The Frog Who Became an Emperor a Chinese Fable
"The Frog and the Ox"
"The Frogs and the Well"
"The Frog's Complaint Against the Sun"
"The Frogs Asking for a King"
"The Frogs Desiring a King"
After completion of this activity students will be able to write a poem
or story in which frogs take the characteristics of humans or humans take
the characteristics of frogs.
Crayons or markers for illustrating stories
1. Read the following Inuit (Eskimo) passage, "Magic Words", by Edward
Field and recorded by Knute Rasmussen.
In the very earliest time,
When both people and animals lived on earth,
A person could become an animal if he wanted to
And an animal could become a human being.
Sometimes they were people
And sometimes animals
And there was no difference.
All spoke the same language.
That was the time when words were like magic.
The human mind had mysterious powers.
A word spoken by chance
Might have strange consequences.
It would suddenly come alive
And what people wanted to happen could happen
All you had to do was say it.
Nobody could explain this:
That's the way it was.
2. Discuss the poem using
the review questions. Have the students talk about what life would be
like if they were frogs. What problems might a frog or toad experience
if it lived in the students' world?
3. Have the students write
Magic Word changing poems. Complete the discussion questions.
What if this were true?
What words might a person
say to turn into a frog or toad?
What would you say to
Write your Magic Word changing poem.
What else might you want to change into?
What words would you use?
Have students write a story about a person who turns into a frog. What
would the person do? How would they survive? What stages of the life cycle
would they experience? What would winter be like?
Now reverse the situation
and have a frog turn into a person. What is life like now? How might the
human world be challenging for your frog person? What would the frog miss
from its former life? What would the frog really enjoy?
References and Resources
Anonymous. "How the Frog Lost Its Tail"--A West African Folk Tale.
Berenzy, Alix (Illustrator).
1991, A Frog Prince. New York: Henry Holt.
Scieszka, Jon. 1994. A
Frog Prince Continued. London, UK: Puffin.
Degraaff, Robert M. 1991.
The Book of the Toad. Rochester, Vermont: Parkstreet Press.
Click here for more information on how this activity correlates with standards.
1 Read View and Listen (Fiction)
3 Arts (Creativity, Performance and Expression)
6 Science Application (Living Systems)
Strand 2.2 The Living Environment
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