Learning about pond life for kids

I love ponds and a nice nature walk with a pond along the way is a great way to ensure you’re going to come across some wonderful wildlife.  Many people shy away from ponds with their kids because they worry they’ll fall in but if you take the proper precautions you can have so much fun and it’s much more than just feeding ducks!  Learning about pond life for kids can bring in some early biology work but actually it’s just really good fun so get on out there and have an explore!



Pond life for kids – why should we learn about it?

Ponds are really accessible for kids and as such it’s a great area to learn about.  There are so many different insects, habitats and life cycles going on that it’s a fun topic to learn about at any age from toddlers all the way up to teens.  It brings in early biology words such as habitat and ecosystem for those interested and you can begin to look at food chains too.

Mostly they are just fun though – perhaps you have a pond in your garden or in your home town that you can visit on a regular basis?


Pond facts for kids

  • A pond is a small body of freshwater that is contained.  It can be big or small, man made or completely natural.
  • A pond does not have running water
  • A pond is not as deep as a lake
  • ponds have been dissappearing from our countryside as we have built more and more houses
  • ponds house so much wildlife – birds, insects, mammals and amphibians all rely on our ponds.


Life in a pond – what can we find?

So, what lives in a pond ecosystem and what can we find when exploring pond habitats?


damselfly near a pond

Photo by Kevin Masson on Unsplash


Frogs and toads are the creatures that initially come to mind when thinking about pond animals.  Another amphibian is a newt – there are a few different kinds in the UK, smooth, palmate and great crested.

Ponds provide great access to drinking water for mammals such as hedgehogs too.


Pond insects

By far the most common thing you’ll find around a pond are insects.  You’ll find small bugs flying above the water, beetles in the water, snails above and below and all sorts of nymphs at the beginning of a life cycle.  Dragonfly nymphs are really impressive especially if you can see it trying to eat something else – it’s jaws come out like something from Alien!


Pond fish

Of course we may find some fish in ponds – what you find will depend on whether it’s a man made pond stocked with fish or a natural pond.  Even if you can’t see fish at first, they may be in there and pond dipping might show them to you.  They can be tiny!



Pond birds

Ducks, moorhens or coots might be around on bigger ponds.  Also, keep an eye out for kingfishers or even herons especially if there are fish in the pond!  Birds aren’t just attracted to ponds because of the food opportunities though – sometimes they just need a drink or a bath!



Pond activities for kids

kids pond dipping family

Pond dipping

My favourite pond activity is always pond dipping and it’s a really easy way to look at life under the water.  If you want to look further at life cycles you might be able to find frogspawn or dragonfly nymphs and it’s always surprising to kids about how these animals start their life!

I’ve written more about pond dipping and what you need to give it a go here.

Take it further and explore and compare different ponds if you can – a wild pond will be different to a garden pond, a large pond perhaps different to a smaller one.  Which one has the most life?


Life cycles – frogs and dragonflies

A favourite activity with schools and nurseries all over the world has to be the lifecycle of a frog.  And of course it’s amazing to think that the frogspawn will eventually turn in to tadpoles which will eventually turn in to a frog – who knew!  It seems like magic and most kids love it.  There are other life cycles you could talk about too like the cycle of a dragonfly which will be especially interesting if you can spot the nymphs underwater.

Books can often help kids to understand this more.  I found this cute picture book on Amazon which would help to bring it all to life:




Scavenger Hunt

With so many different insects, plants and animals that could be found a scavenger hunt is a great way to encourage younger kids to look and find everything on the sheet.

You don’t need to just find the actual organisms though, perhaps make a scavenger hunt searching for all the colours of the rainbow and see what you can find?  Or search for different textures and patterns.


Build a pond in your garden

Ponds are an excellent way to attract wildlife into your garden and if you want to create a good project for the summer holidays why not work alongside your kids to build a pond in your garden?  It doesn’t have to be huge and a big expense – simply burying a tub in the garden, filling with rain water and adding some aquatic plants would be a good start.

I found loads of good books on Amazon that might help with this activity like this one.


Draw a pond food web or chain

A pond food web looks at what organism eats what in the pond.  So a very basic way to do this would be to talk about the animals, insects and plants you found in the pond.  Remember to think about what lives outside the pond too but visits, like ducks or toads, and don’t forget the plants too.  Once you’ve written them down, think or research what they eat.  You can then build up a web or chain of the pond ecosystem.  You can make this as simple or as complicated as you want depending on the child’s age and interest.


Add to your nature journal

Dragonfly kids drawing in nature journal


Finally, another idea is to bring your nature journals, or simply a pile of colouring paper and pencils to the pond and draw what you see.  Perhaps you’ll draw the big picture and the whole of the pond ecosystem?  Or perhaps a small aspect of the pond will cath your child’s eye like this dragonfly my son drew.