It’s amazing how many things live in and on rotting logs. In this activity, kids 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 micro-habitats and communities.
Doing the Activity
Take a walk in the woods with your family and look for a fallen log or rotting tree stump. Conduct a thought exercise by asking, “What happens to a tree after it dies?” Investigate the answer by using powers of observation:
- How did the tree die and how long has it been dead?
- Are there signs of animals, including insects, in, on, or around the log? How about plants?
- How are they interconnected?
- Where do these living things get the nutrients they need to survive?
Be careful not to disturb the habitat as you observe. You could use a digital camera—or sketchbook—to record pictures of anything you see. Use field guides or the internet to identify and research them later. Finally, brainstorm ways in which the forest ecosystem benefits from the fallen log you examined.
Children’s Book Recommendation
- What’s Under the Log?
by Anne Hunter
A story book that illustrates many creatures a child could find under a fallen log.
Get the Full Activity
This family activity is adapted from Project Learning Tree’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide which can be obtained through an in-person professional development workshop or online course.
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