This is the first time I've done a study like this, and I'm not quite sure how to take it from our kitchen table to being able to actually being able to identify frogs when we find them next summer, but I figure the chances are better with a inexpert effort than they are if we don't try at all! So right now, we're drawing them. And listening to some YouTube recordings of their song. And that's pretty much it. Today we did Blanchard's Cricket Frog, which is a cute little thing: fits on a fingertip with plenty of room to spare.
This is the drawing from Dragon(6). In addition to learning about these cute little guys, he's also learning to see well enough to draw. I have him sit on my lap (ufta! he's not little anymore!) and help him know what to look at, and how to really see it in a way that works for drawing:
He draws a circle for the eye, which is the most prominent feature.
"Look, the eye is cool, but it's easiest to start with the outline of the whole frog, and worry about the inside details later; let's save the eyeball for last, so you can tell more easily where it belongs. Look at the frog's nose, instead. See how this part is part of a circle?" -I run a pencil along the curve of the frog's mouth, showing him the circle-
"Next to that big circle part, there's this small curve, where the other eye is hiding. See how those connect?"
"Do you think you can draw the big circle part and the little one? Can you see how they go?"
"Yes." And he did it pretty credibly.
"Good. Now, look, first. Put your eyes up here on the picture. See how his back goes along like this, not super round, but not quite curvy, either?"
We went along like that, trying to help him to see what he needs, and reminding him to look at the picture before he draws, and at the end, his frog is pretty credible, particularly the front half, and the front leg, which he did entirely by himself. He's making good progress with his drawings, though judging from his comments after it was done, I don't think he can see his progress, yet. Unfortunately, his nature book is lost right now, so we didn't put this in there, just on regular paper, which makes it hard to look back and see how progress really has been happening. Hopefully, we'll find it soon and tape in this drawing.
Hero(10) is well past the point where he needs me to sit and hold his hand. He's been turning out stacks of ever-improving drawings for quite a while, now, and I didn't have to do any more than just show him the frog I wanted him to observe, and let him choose which picture he was going to do; he takes care of the rest.
It's been too busy a day for me to get this drawing into my own nature book, but I'm hoping that, here in the next little bit, I can put a cute little frog in my notebook, and possibly even paint him a little to show his lovely colors. I've got a cottonwood leaf pressed in my book that I'm finishing up this evening.