I'm Stuck on You!

Activities Integrating Math and Science (AIMS)
Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



Students will learn about frog, toad, and chameleon tongues, construct a sticky tongue, use the sticky tongue model to catch prey, and then analyze the data from the activity to see how the sticky tongue helped the frog to catch food in different areas. This activity is one from the Activities Integrating Math and Science (AIMS) book Concerning Critters: Adaptations & Interdependence (Grades 3-5), but can be purchased seperately as a download for $2.00. 

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Upper Elementary
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

3-LS4-2 Use evidence to construct an explanation for how the variations in characteristics among individuals of the same species may provide advantages in surviving, finding mates, and reproducing.

Clarification Statement: Examples of cause and effect relationships could be plants that have larger thorns than other plants may be less likely to be eaten by predators; and, animals that have better camouflage coloration than other animals may be more likely to survive and therefore more likely to leave offspring.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource was not designed to build towards this performance expectation, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This activity allows students to build a model of a frog tongue and use the tongue to catch prey. The teacher should explain that while most frogs, toads, and chameleons have sticky tongues, not all do. Some frogs use their front feet to catch food. Frogs with sticky tongues have a definite advantage for catching food over frogs who do not have a sticky tongue. Students can compare how the same basic tongue design can be altered (change the width or length, change the material that the tongue is made from, or vary the amount of 'stickiness' on the tongue) and repeat the activity. The students should record their results and then compare the results with the other class groups. What changes helped the frog catch the most prey? What changes were not helpful or actually were detrimental to the frog catching it's food? To fully address the Performance Expectation, the teacher will also want to discuss other adaptations that amphibians have developed to allow them to find a mate (loud croaking) and reproduce (laying eggs in water).

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will build a model of a frog's sticky tongue and then use the model to try to catch insect models. The students will combine their individual results into a class graph, and then analyze their data to discover that the tongues are very adept at catching flying insects. The activity comes with a data sheet that allows the students to fill in results for ten trials conducted in the air, on the ground, and in a tree.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
This activity only addresses the ability to find food. To more fully support the standard, the teacher would also want to explore how amphibians have adaptated to live on land and water, and that amphibians lay their eggs in a wet environment.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The students identify that the frog's tongues are designed differently from other animals, construct a model tongue to test the effectiveness of the tongue, and then the students examine how well the tongue worked to catch insects. The guiding questions have the students examine different techniques for using the model tongue and the success rate in each area tested.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The focus of the lesson is to support students in making sense of the phenomena of a sticky frog tongue. The students "catch" food using model frog tongues and analyze data to determine which tongues were most effective. To more fully embrace the three dimensional learning style, students could follow this activity with a project where they design their own super-tongue for the frog after collecting data on two or more tongue variables.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson provides opportunities for students to predict, experiment, interpret, express their ideas, and to respond to the ideas of peers and the teacher. Students experience a natural phenomena through the model of the frog tongue. Because this is a hands-on and discussion activity, students with limited reading ability or speakers of other languages should be able to participate without problems. Teachers might consider creating actual bar graphs instead of coloring in the strips to connect more directly with math, since bar graphs are introduced in second and third grades. The lesson offers the teacher background information, management tips, procedures, and several pre-made lab sheets. The internet link is outdated, but the correct link can be found in the Technology Interactivity comments below. Instead of showing the entire video clip, the teacher might consider starting the clip at 50 seconds and turn the sound off. The students would then be able to see the tongue in action, but not hear the explanation of how it works. Extensions for student learning are suggested. There is no rubric or other way to evaluate the activity provided, and the activity is not connected to the student's classroom or local community. A suggested way to introduce the lesson is to ask the students to brainstorm ways to retrieve a coin that has been dropped down into a grate, and then link that scenario to the way the function of the frog tongue.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The activity does include data sheets, and the teacher can collect the sheets for an evaluation. The activity would be stronger if before the activity began, the student recorded into a science notebook their predictions on how the sticky tongue helps a frog to catch prey and where the tongue would work best. After the activity, the students could explain why the frog has the adaptation of a sticky tongue and support that conclusion using the data from each area. The teacher could then grade the response with a rubric.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: With the exception of watching the chameleon video, there is no technology used in this activity. The link for the chameleon video has been changed. The new link is: http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/worlds-deadliest/videos/crafty-chameleon/