I kept a clipboard with paper next to the tank for teachers to write down the children's words. We did not tell them what was inside, but would only talk about what they/we saw.
"I see a hole!"
"There's nothing. There's a rock. There's two holes!"
"The holes are clues."
"There is dirt, a plant, and pieces of wood."
One lucky child discovered a frog peeking out of a hole. She told a teacher immediately. From there, the news spread fast. Like a game of telephone, there were lizards, frogs, fish, and caterpillars living in the holes. Children were convinced there were creatures inside without even seeing them.
"Why aren't they coming out? The animals are hiding."
"I saw a frog hop!"
"If we stomp out feet they will come out from hiding."
"What's in there? Is there a lizard? It's hiding! I found it! There is a second one! They are cute!"
I then "forced" the toads to come out of hiding one afternoon so I could take pictures and give some of the children an opportunity to see them. The toads spend most of their time in the dirt, so I made a book of photographs to "prove" to the children what was inside of the tank.
It is hard to see from this video (it's pretty choppy), but this is one of the toads eating a worm from the bowl. I will try to put up a new video if I can get it to work.