1st-Day Lesson — Frogs on a Log

 

Frogs on a Log is about building community and establishing the values of your classroom.

It’s a fun activity involving a parable-ish little story intended to get students thinking about our habits and attitudes and how they determine our success.

Frogs on a Log is not only fun to say, but it’s also a great way to become familiar with your students, and your students with one another. For me, it sets the tone of my class and for our year together.

Here’s How I Set it Up

To prep for this lesson, you’ll need buy or create cut-outs of frogs. I like using these die-cut frogs you can typically find at your local dollar or craft store.

After you’ve gathered your frogs, dissect each one into three or four sections, depending on how big your class is. Make sure to create unique cuts so it’s obvious which piece belongs with which frog.

Now, you’re all set!

Here’s how it works with students:

      Pass out a frog puzzle piece to each student.

      Tell them the following story: “There are two frogs sitting on a log, and one decides to jump off. How many frogs are on the log?” Students sense there’s a catch, but they almost always say there’s only one frog left on the log. Tell them, “There are still two frogs on the log, because deciding to do something and doing something are two different things.” After the story…

      Have students find the missing pieces of their frog. This gives students a chance to walk around, socialize a bit, and become familiar with the classroom. Once they find their complete frog, have them find a seat with their new small group.

      Ask students a few guiding questions about classroom habits and attitudes that determine success. I like to ask these two questions:

o    What do we normally say we’ll do at the beginning of the school year, like stay organized or lay off the fast food or stop procrastinating on homework, but end up not doing in the long run, even though we know it may not be good for us?

o   What actions make us successful students and people?

      Have students share their ideas and experiences with one another in small groups, and then share out as a whole class. Finally…

      Bring it back to the frogs on a log. After students share out, shape their ideas into a list of principles that you can adopt as classroom actions and attitudes that lead to success. A few of my favorites that have come up in years past: persevere, stay curious, and follow through.

      I like to have students tape together their frogs and write at least one word from our list on the back of it. I pin the frogs to my bulletin board or display them in my classroom, and remind students again and again in those first few weeks that deciding and doing are two different things and that our actions, little-by-little, day-by-day, will lead to success.

What Makes it Effective

Frogs on a Log has been a successful activity in having students come to their own understanding of classroom values, rather than spelling it out for them in a slideshow. It’s effective in building community, and it also gives students a fun memory to look back on.

Karla Hillard is an AP Literature & STEM Academy at Spring Mills High School in West Virginia. She is also a member of WVCTE  and a contributing writer at

 

To find more first-day lessons, check out how to inspire students with poetry and an interactive way to set classroom expectations. 

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