Why Do Kids Love Puddles?

Posted by on Apr 20, 2022 in Unmowed Blog | 0 comments

kids love rubber boots

photo by Angie Milkie-Stokes

Why is it that as soon as kids can toddle, they head for the nearest puddle like a homesick duck? A child has only to see a puddle to know it for their own. Perhaps it’s the size–the ocean is too huge and scary, a river is too fast, a stream is too noisy–but a puddle is just right for the smallest explorers.

Maybe it’s the joys of splashing. Maybe it’s the sunlight sparkling on the water. Or maybe it’s just the utter coolness of wearing those great big rubber boots.

But for whatever reason, kids and puddles go together. One reason for the attraction might be that puddles, like all bodies of water great or small, are a magnet for wildlife.

Kids, whose keen eyes are so good at spotting tiny objects, often notice that some of the specks in a puddle are moving. Puddles are homes for many water creatures–diving beetles, water bugs, water striders that skim along the surface. One of the coolest types of puddle wildlife are the small black tadpoles you can sometimes see in spring puddles. These tadpoles will metamorphose into baby toads.

Once I happened to notice a puddle on the edge of a dirt road. The water of the puddle appeared to be moving in some strange way, with rippling wavelets like a miniature ocean. On closer inspection I discovered it was filled with wriggling black tadpoles, each about half-an-inch long.american toad tadpoles in puddle

Toads lay eggs in shallow pools, and the resulting tadpoles zip through the process of metamorphosis. The journey from egg to adult can take some species of frogs two years, but toads do it all in in about 30 days. The toads have no time to waste—they have to get a move on, before their puddle dries up and leaves them high and dry. They exit the puddle as hordes of little toads, so tiny you could fit several of them on a quarter.

Adults often pass this magic by, on our busy days that are so filled with duties that we have little time to stare into puddles. Kids know better, though.


To find out more about puddles and the amazing variety of wildlife that depend on this odd, ignored habitat, please check out my picture book: Hello, Puddle!

kids love mud puddles

photo by Angie Milkie-Stokes

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