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. They’ll gain an understanding of how decomposition takes place and a better appreciation for microhabitats and communities.
This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
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.
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.
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.
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.
A free app that can be downloaded onto Apple and Android devices. AllTrails helps users to get out and discover the outdoors. Use it to plan a national park visit, find a hiking path near home, or map a new trail of your own! AllTrails can help you find local places to run, hike, bike, fish, and more in the outdoors. You can even upload photos and images to trails you create.