Resources for Grades 3-5 Activity – Fallen Log

It’s amazing how many things live in and on rotting logs. In this activity, your students will become familiar with some of those organisms by observing fallen logs or other decomposing pieces of wood. They’ll gain an understanding of how decomposition takes place and a better appreciation for microhabitats and communities.

For the complete activity and more like this, purchase the Explore Your Environment: K-8 Activity Guide at Shop.PLT.org and/or attend a professional development training in your state.

Below are some supporting resources for this activity.

STUDENT PAGES

Download the copyright-free student pages that are included with this activity:

Fallen Log Observations (PDF)

RECOMMENDED READING

Expand your students’ learning and imaginations. Help students meet their reading goals, while building upon concepts learned in this activity, with the following children’s book recommendations:

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The following tools and resources may be used to enhance the activity.

  • Video Demo: The Fallen Log

    Watch The Fallen Log Demonstration video (13 minutes). PLT’s The Fallen Log helps students develop skills in data collection and learn what’s living on rotting stumps and logs in their backyard. This video was developed by Laurie Haines, a PLT Facilitator in Maine.

  • A City in the Forest

    How is a forest like a city? This 4-minute video, A City in a Forest from PBS Plum Landing, explores a child’s perspective of a forest and what they see living and growing on trees—from the top of the canopy to their roots in the ground, to dead trees lying on the forest floor. Aligned to several Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards, use this video to teach your students about ecosystems and engage them in conversations about their own community and urban forests. This video is one of many resources offered by PBS Kids through Plum Landing, a multi-platform, indoor-outdoor, science exploration adventure for kids.

  • Food Web, a Science Trek Video

    PBS LearningMedia’s 4-minute video Food Web, from Idaho public TV’s Science Trek series for grades K-6, illustrates how energy from the sun moves through the food chain, the various factors that contribute to a food chain, and where humans fit into it. Support materials include a set of discussion questions and alignment to standards, including National Standards in Science Literacy and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Create a free account to see state standards, and to share this resource as a class assignment.

  • Agents of Discovery

    Agents of Discovery gets students moving with an augmented reality, geo-triggered app. Students play the role of a top-secret Agent to help solve mysteries of science, culture, technology, and nature. Download the app and mission with WiFi or data and then use the app offline outdoors. Agents of Discovery includes missions all across North America. Find one near you to learn why bumblebees buzz, beavers build dams, and more about the natural world.

  • Disneynature Explore

    The free Disneynature Explore application for iPads and iPhones combines an augmented reality experience with animal behavior gameplay to encourage young students (grades PreK-3) and their families to get outside and connect with nature. In the app, 3D images of animals appear in the camera’s viewer, providing students with “wild adventures” in their own backyard. For example, students can see their surroundings through a butterfly’s eyes, follow tracks with a bear to find its cub, and crack a nut like a chimpanzee.

  • Find Nearby Trails and Parks

    AllTrails is a free app that helps users discover the outdoors. Use it to find a hiking path suitable for children, to search for local places to bike or fish, or to plan a national park visit.

  • IMOLD: The Interactive Model of Leaf Decomposition

    This University of Toledo project intended for grades 9-12 teaches students about leaf litter decomposition and how it relates to the Earth’s carbon cycle and climate. Using interactive tools, the website allows students and teachers to create their own animated models that display tree leaf litter decomposition rates for species of their choice and compare them to other species and different environments.

  • WildLab Bird

    A free app that can be downloaded onto any Apple device (try iBird Lite for Android). Use WildLab Bird to learn the basics of bird identification. This application uses audio, photographs, maps, and the process of elimination to help identify over 200 bird species. Sightings can also be entered into a national bird watching database for comparison.