Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reading with Frog and Toad

Reading with Frog and Toad

    Of my three children, Sophia, was most fascinated with critters. When discovered, she wouldn’t leave them alone. Oh, the critters she had cornered. This is what happens when screen time is absent in the afternoons, I suppose. I am struck by the reality that this photograph is twenty years old. Caught in the act it reveals the quintessential Sophia. 

Early Reading
    What do you recommend for young children to read? At this request a set of early readers spontaneously comes to mind: those written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel. I photographed our oft-read copies outdoors on a leafy October day along with Arnold Lobel’s popular characters. 

    Some of you know our family has been writing book reviews for more than ten years. Here is a sneak preview of Sophia’s review.

frog and toad books

Sophia’s Recommendation

    As a seven-year-old one of my favorite pastimes was catching frogs and toads. The poor things lived in a box with moss and rocks until my mother made me set them free. Even now, I will scoop up a toad if it chances across my garden path. Maybe this is why when introduced to the Frog & Toad early reading series, I was eager to do my reading lessons.

    Frog and Toad are two very different characters yet are best of friends. In their corduroy and tweed jackets you won’t find better dressed amphibians. Arnold Lobel (1933-1987) had an amazing ability to portray expression and action in a simple drawing. My toddler son is captivated by his pictures. Frog and Toad are Friends is providing us bedtime stories for now. Our favorites episodes are, Cookies, A Lost Button, The Corner and The Kite.

    Arnold Lobel turned ordinary, everyday events into clever, humorous, memorable adventures, retaining a childlike ability to make the world magical. When he was a boy he enjoyed telling stories and illustrating them to entertain his friends. But what he loved most was borrowing books from the library. Share Arnold Lobel’s stories with your young readers and they might say the same some day.•

Reading by Sound and by Sight 
    Each chapter in these “I Can Read” books is a mini story in itself – a story that repeats the use of some of the most commonly used “sight” words. When teaching reading what method can surpass that of tutoring? A child reads aloud at his inexperienced snail’s pace and sometimes stops at a sight word – a word not easily figured out by sounding out. The tutor (homeschool mom) says the word for him. She also makes note of these words for later practice. 

    Here is a way to practice sight words with movement (hand-eye coordination). Children find it a welcome change from necessary seatwork. I wrote out three sight words and taped them to a cardboard box above the holes I cut into it. When a wooden bead, a ball, a little car or train engine is rolled across the floor and aimed at one of the tunnels, a tally is kept by the student of how many beads enter the “where” tunnel, etc. Your cardboard box can be as plain or as decorated as you like.

frong and toad plush toys
    It isn’t cheating for a student to hear a book read aloud that he will later work at reading himself. Arnold Lobel reads his stories on CD and does a gentleman’s unhurried job of it. The acoustic musical interludes are quiet and tasteful.

These fine friends now sit on our bookshelf. Next to the outdoors it is their second best place to be. But when given a choice the first is in the hands of a child. 

Thank you for visiting,

Karen Andreola 


  1. Frog and Toad are into their second generation in our family, too! We never had the stuffed characters, though--maybe they need to be under the grandkids' Christmas tree this year!

  2. My two eldest have enjoyed the Frog and Toad series--it has been read for reading instruction and pure enjoyment. I don't have the CD, but it would help to have it during lessons to keep my 4-year-old occupied.

  3. I am going to get these from the library for Sarah to read! I may do some read aloud as well, as I think Kyle will like them!

  4. I am in Love with the stuffed frog and Toad in your pics. :) They are so sweet.

  5. Oh, what a treat to read your daughter's reviews and get to see the writing of an adult schooled with Charlotte Mason's methods to boot.
    That's just as good as a butterscotch pudding!

    I can still feel Toad's pain when he felt uncomfortable in his swimsuit.

  6. We are enjoying Frog and Toad stories as my son is learning to read. He is a collector of all varieties of minibeasts. It is Tadpole season in Australia and we currently have a bucket of tadpoles waiting to transform into our own frogs and toads. Are the frog and toad figures still available? They are lovely.

  7. Nicole,
    I didn't know until today that the plush toys are no longer for sale in book stores. Dean checked for me this morning and found that a pair sold on e-bay recently for more than 50 dollars. It might be fun to try and make them by modifying a teddy pattern. Your word "minibeast" has started my day with a smile.

    It is good to hear that what my children remember about their learning experiences is of some interest. I found the swimsuit story funny, too, especially the way Arnold Lobel reads it on the CD.


  8. I found and bought the plush Frog and Toad dolls a few years ago and I can't remember where I purchased them.
    Glad I got them when I did.
    These books are spectacular for early readers. My children have thoroughly enjoyed them!
    We also enjoyed "Owl at Home". How sweet the chapter was entitled "Tear Water Tea" I believe?! So great to see others have or will be enjoying these books in their homes as well! Wonderful blog Karen!

  9. Karen,
    I LOVE those frog and toad characters. How long have you had them. Adorable. I would probably get them for me- instead of the kids. We have been reading Arnold Lobel for years and he is a favorite with my kids too. I am new to Mother Culture online-but have enjoyed your books for years. I have met you a few times- at Search and CHAP. Looking forward to reading more blogs.thanks

  10. My children have always loved the Frog and Toad stories. What intrigued me most about your article, however, is the fun yet simple game you developed to help your daughter practice high frequency words. I especially like the suggestion to have her tally the words as it gives her a reason to focus on the words as she plays the game. Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. I also grew up with Frog and Toad. We had the cassette of Mr. Lobel reading the stories too. A few years back my folks bought the kids the stuffed figures. How fun! We also love Mouse Tales. Incidentally, did you know that Mr. Lobel's daughter published a collections of her father's poems? They're cute too.

  12. I have two Autistic children that love love love frog and toad. I have looked high and low to no avail for a used frog n toad. If anyone finds them or wants to sell them please let me know. (((Hugs)))