Too Dry for a Toad? Lesson Plan

Academic Standards


Reading Objective:

Children will explain why spadefoot toads must go through their life cycle quickly.


Science Focus:

animal life cycles, habitats, and adaptations


ELA Skills:

key details, writing, vocabulary, text evidence


Page 4 Skill:

read a chart



habitat, tadpoles, metamorphosis, evaporate, life cycle



RI.2.1, RI.2.4, RI.2.8, RI.2.10, L.2.1, SL.2.3


Guided Reading Level: 



Lexile Level:


Provide students with some background on habitats.


Build background knowledge (10 min.)

Watch our video “A Habitat is a Home.” After children have finished watching the video, discuss the following questions:

  • What habitat is dry and hot? (desert)
  • In what habitat does it rain a lot? (rainforest)
  • What is a habitat you can find near where you live? (Answers will vary.)


Preview vocabulary (3 min.)

Next, play the online vocabulary slideshow. This issue’s featured words are habitat, tadpoles, metamorphosis, evaporate, and life cycle.

Set a purpose for reading (5 min.)

  • Pass out the issue, and discuss the cover. How would students describe the toad’s habitat from the photo?
  • Next, read the As You Read prompt on page 2: “Think about why the toad has a faster life cycle than toads in other habitats.” Encourage children to think about this prompt as they read.

Read together (20 min.)

Pass out the Read and Think printable. Use it to check comprehension as you read the issue together, pausing to ask the questions. 

Assessment: Reading Checkpoint (15 min.)

Pass out the Reading Checkpoint to review key concepts from the issue and assess students’ proficiency on key nonfiction reading skills.

The Pond Find It game takes children on a virtual trip to a habitat where other kinds of toads live.

You can use our printable worksheets to focus on important ELA skills. Here’s how.


ELA Focus: Vocabulary (15 min.)

  • Use the Word Work printable to deepen students’ understanding of the words metamorphosis, and evaporates..

Editor’s Pick: Find the Facts (15 min.)

  • The Life in the Desert skill sheet helps students build a fact file about the spadefoot toad’s life in the desert. First, students draw a picture of the animal. Then they complete quick sentence stems to collect facts.

ELA Focus: Be a Reporter! (15 min.)

  • Once again, Norbert Know-It-All thinks he knows all about spadefoot toads, but he has not read his Scholastic News very carefully! Read kids his “expertise” and let them write back to correct him! Send letters to [email protected]. Norbert will write back!

 Here are two past issues you can use to extend your lesson on animal habitats and adaptations:

  • A Chick Grows Up, January 2019. This issue tells how emperor penguin chicks grow up in the freezing Antarctic.
  • A Light in the Night, October 2019. This issue explores bioluminescent animals and how glowing helps each one survive.

You can find a higher-Lexile-level and a lower-Lexile-level version of the article online here:

  • Higher Lexile level: 570L
  • Lower Lexile level: 510L