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Frogs at School

Poem by George Cooper

There was one book that we asked her to get again and again, until we nearly knew it by heart. We did learn to repeat from it one whole poem… – Pioneer Girl


Twenty froggies went to school,
Down beside a rushy pool.
Twenty little coats of green;
Twenty vests, all white and clean.
“We must be in time,” said they:
“First we study, then we play;
That is how we keep the rule,
When we froggies go to school.”

Master Bullfrog, grave and stern,
Called the classes in their turn;
Taught them how to nobly strive,
Likewise how to leap and dive;
From his seat upon a log,
Showed them how to say, “Ker-chog!”
Also how to dodge a blow
From the sticks which bad boys throw.

Twenty froggies grew up fast;
Bullfrogs they became at last;
Not one dunce among the lot,
Not one lesson they forgot;
Polished in a high degree,
As each froggie ought to be:
Now they sit on other logs,
Teaching other little frogs.

In Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote that while living near Walnut Grove, they used to borrow books from the Sunday School library. They read them many times, until she and Mary knew them nearly by heart. Laura included some partial verses in her manuscript, part of the “Frogs at School” poem above.

“Frogs at School” was written by George Cooper, and it appeared as a new poem in an 1874 issue of The Nursery, a magazine for young readers. Published from 1867-1880, The Nursery contained page after page of stories, poems, and illustrations (the issue containing “Frogs at School” was over 200 pages). It also appeared in Webster’s Little Folks’ Speaker in 1875, a book of pieces for memorization and recitation. If Laura learned the poem in Walnut Grove, she may have read it in one of these publications.

George Cooper (1840-1927) was an American poet and writer. He studied law at the office of Chester A. Arthur (U.S. President, 1881-1885), although he didn’t continue to practice law long after being admitted to the bar. He was quite successful as a writer of poems for children, and his works appeared in many school textbooks and magazines during the Little House years.


“Twenty Froggies” poem (PG)