Pond Animals

Children will explore the movement of animals that live in ponds.

Lesson Objective

Children will explore and compare the movements of different pond animals. 


What You'll Need

  • Large floor space
  • Scarves – 1 per child
  • Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Book, In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
  • Music selection (see Lesson Tips)
  • Audio device for playing music

What To Do

  1. Discuss what a pond is and the kinds of animals that might live in or around a pond (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  2. Read the story, In the Small, Small Pond.
  3. Review some of the animals from the story and the ways that they move. For example, tadpoles wriggle, minnows scatter, geese waddle, swallows swoop, and so on.
  4. Tell the children that they will be rereading and enjoying the story by acting it out through movement.
  5. Perform the steps of the Warm-Up (see Lesson Tips).
  6. Reread the story, noting the verbs describing the animals’ movement, and lead the children in matching the movements. For example:
    • Wiggle, jiggle, tadpoles wiggle – have children wiggle different body parts in their self-space, circle around with a jiggle, wriggle slowly, and then wriggle fast.
    • Waddle, wade, geese parade – children line up behind the teacher, who leads the children in waddling while parading around the dance space.
    • Hover, shiver, wings quiver – have the children state how they think dragonflies’ wings move. Play the drum and tambourine to signal the speed of the movement, using the drum for a slow beat and the tambourine for faster movements.
  7. Discuss and compare the various animals’ movements (see Guiding Student Inquiry).
  8. Wrap up the session with some Cool-Down movements. These can be any kind of slow, calming movements (see Lesson Tips).

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me what you know about a pond.
  • Describe some animals that might live in or around a pond.
  • Show me what a wiggle/waddle/shiver looks like.
  • Describe how the way tadpoles move is different from the way that geese move.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Use the drum, tambourine, or rhythm sticks to keep a steady tempo with the different animals as children are moving.
  • Connect the dragonfly page in the story to a discussion about tempo. Tempo in music is speed and can be fast, slow, or in between. The tempo of a song can change, and it affects how the music sounds and feels. Use a drum for slow tempo or tambourine for faster tempo to tap the beat of dragonflies’ wings as the children move to the beat. Experiment with other pages in the book using different tempos.
  • Create a pond at your water table. Include plastic animals and vegetation.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe some animals that live in or near a pond?
  • Could children describe the difference in movement of the various animals?
  • Could children identify the difference in tempo?
  • Did all children participate in the movement? 


Did You Know?

All animals move in different ways. The way animals move depends on where they live and how they are built. Some pond animals, such as frogs and toads, have strong legs to help them swim and hop. Other pond animals, like fish, have a body shape and fins that allow them to swim through water. Animals that live on top of the pond, like ducks, have webbing on their feet that allows them to paddle. Some pond insects have wings to help them fly over the top of the water.

A pond is a small area of fresh water that is shallow enough for sunlight to reach the bottom. Ponds are full of a wide variety of animal and plant life. Plants are abundant even in the middle of the pond because sunlight can reach them. Plants and animals that live in a pond create a delicate life cycle balance and are dependent on each other for survival. Not all animals live in the pond. Some animals, such as ducks and geese, live on top of the water. Others, like raccoons and birds live around the pond.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • pond – a small body of still water.
  • drum – an instrument for playing music that has a hollow, round shape and a tight covering over an open end.
  • tambourine – a small drum that has metal disks around the rim.
  • hover – to stay hanging in the air, often by quick flapping.
  • shiver – to shake because of cold or fear.
  • quiver – to shake or tremble slightly.

Lesson Tips

  • Musical selections can be found online. Search for these songs and albums online “Baby Elephant Walk” by Henry Mancini [chameleons and zoo animals] and “Le Cygne from Carnivale of the Animals (album by Camille Saint-Saens) [Cool-Down].
  • Steps of the Warm-Up:
    • Breathing – Take several deep breaths in and out slowly. 
      Example: Butterflies or Birds – your “wings” rise as you breathe in and lower when you exhale.
    • Touch – Using gentle energy, tap/tickle your skin all over the body (arms, shoulders, belly, legs, etc.). Then, using stronger energy, squeeze all over your body to wake up your skin and senses. 
      Example: Hickory Dickory Dock – using the rhyme, make the hands mimic a mouse running, skittering, tiptoeing, and so forth, up the body.
    • Get Moving – Do several movements that will get the blood flowing. 
      Example: Cat/Cow Yoga Stretches – from hands and knees position, arch the back then curl the spine. 
      Example: Starfish – start by hugging knees and making the body into a ball, then stretch into a big “X” shape on the ground like a starfish. Repeat three times. Move the starfish arms any way as the legs stay still. Repeat, moving the legs as the arms stay still. Pretend to have a line down the middle of the starfish; move only one arm and one leg; repeat on the other side. From the starfish “X” position, see if children can reach arms and legs up to the sky and touch fingertip to opposite toes. Starfish slowly come up to the surface (standing position), turning and turning, then stop and turn in the other direction.
  • Suggested steps of the Cool-Down:
    • Taking deep breaths in and out
    • Raising and lowering the shoulders
    • Circling neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles
    • Flexing and pointing ankles and wrists
    • Stretching side to side
    • Twisting side to side
    • Stretching up to the ceiling, moving through flat back, reaching to the floor, and rolling back up to center
    • Swinging legs front and back
    • Balancing on one leg and reaching arms up


  • In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
  • Move! (Rise and Shine) by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
  • Would You Rather Be a Pollywog? (All About Pond Life) by Bonnie Worth
  • Pond Circle by Betsy Franco

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS