Ferguson the Forgetful Frog: A Story About Dementia
About this Program
The MSU Extension Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness for Children Storybook Program is designed to teach children about a form of dementia called Alzheimer’s disease.
The goals of the program are:
1) to increase awareness and knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease, and
2) to provide supportive resources to children and families when they have a loved one with the disease.
Authors of the reading guides are:
- Jennifer Munter, Volunteer Program Coordinator. Jennifer is a former Early Childhood Educator and has worked with children and their families for over 15 years.
- Marsha A. Goetting, MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist
This is a story about a frog named Ferguson who has dementia. The author uses this animated character to help young children understand and talk about dementia. This story explains the difficulties someone with dementia could experience, the feelings they could have, and the behaviors they may have because of dementia. The book provides the young reader the knowledge and awareness they need to interact with a loved one in a caring and empathetic way.
Questions to Ask While Reading
- Page 3: People all over the world can have dementia just like people all over the world can have the same name as yours. What does it mean to have dementia?
- Page 11-36: Ferguson the forgetful frog acts differently than he used to and needs a lot of help because he has dementia. What are some of the things Ferguson needs help doing?
- Page 5: Assisted means to help. Where does Ferguson live?
- Page 37 & 38: Ferguson the forgetful frog is different from most people who get old. Sometimes it’s harder for him to show love towards people. Even though it is hard, does Ferguson still love the people around him?
- Page 38: Ferguson’s dementia could become worse over time. Remembering things and showing people love will become more difficult. Where will his memories live? Where will his love for the people around him go?
- Dementia is a complex condition. The author notes that when children are not given the knowledge and awareness to process something new, they will ultimately reach their own conclusions, beliefs and feelings. These will either be wrong or partially wrong and can result in feelings of guilt, rejection, and helplessness.
- Open discussion and art activity: Ask your child to think about someone they love. Then ask your child to think about
what he or she loves about that person and what that person loves about him or her.
Discuss how this love is shown through actions and words. Remind your child that
people with Alzheimer’s sometimes have a difficult time showing love through their
actions and words. Ask the child if he or she can remember where Ferguson’s love
was kept when he was not able to show it (inside of him).
- Download and print two of the Ferguson the Frog coloring pages and hearts below:
Color together with your child (this would be a good time to have the open discussion). Then cut out the hearts and glue them to your frog. Feel free to write any endearing comments your child may have had during your discussion on the coloring page.
Other Tools and Resources
For other tools and resources about Alzheimer’s disease, visit:
- Alliance for Aging Research:
- Alzheimer’s Association-Montana Chapter:
- Kids Health:
- Montana Alzheimer’s & Dementia Workgroup Materials:
- National Institute for Aging: www.nia.nih.gov
- Alzheimer’s Association 50 Activities
Spending time with a family member or friend in the middle or late stages of Alzheimer’s can be meaningful and fun.
Other Books in this Program
Other MSU Extension Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness for Children Storybook Program reading guides include (click on the title of the book to go to that particular reading guide link):
- A Garden of Flowers: A Story About Alzheimer's
by Marta Schmidt Mendez
Illustrated by Andreea Mironiuc
- My New Granny
by: Elisabeth Steinkellner
Illustrator: Michael Roher
- The Remember Balloons
by: Jessie Olivero
Illustrator by: Dana Wulfekotte
- Striped Shirts and Flowered Pants: A Story About Alzheimer’s Disease for Young
by Barbara Schnurbush
Illustrated by: Cary Pilo
- What a Beautiful Morning
by Arthur A. Levine
Illustrated by Katie Kath
- When My Grammy Forgets, I Remember: A Child’s Perspective on Dementia
by Toby Haberkorn
Illustrated by Heather Varkarota