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Nature Time Activities
 
A CLOSE ENCOUNTER
WITH DEATH
AND DECAY
 

 

When a tree dies, it rots slowly.
The wood gets softer. It gives back to the earth all the minerals and nutrients it took while it was growing. It leaves behind a rich, dark laryer of soil called humus. Animals dig and chew little “rooms” inside it, where they can stay safe and be warm in the winter. Even after they move out, you can see the signs they left behind. Let’s take a close look at who’s taking advantage of this wonderful situation.
 
 

Here’s an ACTIVITY you can do in the woods:

Supplies:

• A fallen tree or large limb
• Magnifying glass
• 4 or 5 jars with lids (Poke tiny holes in the lids with a hammer and a small nail.)
• Pocket knife or stick
• Pencil
• Notebook
• Field guides to insects
• Field guide to spiders (optional)
 
Directions:
  • Find an old large log in the woods.
  • Kick the log gently to scare away any snakes that may be hiding inside.
  • Examine the log with the magnifying glass, and try to find at least one creature from each of these areas:
    • on top of the log
    • under the bark
    • underneath the log or on the ground nearby.
  • Don’t stick your bare hand into dark holes. Use a small stick or pocket knife to move things around instead.
  • Pick apart the crumbly wood.
  • Centipedes, millipedes, spiders, or sow bugs may run and hide. Look for insect nests full of eggs or wormy larvae. Be careful.
  • Put the creatures in a jar to look at them more closely. When you are done studying them, put them back where you found them.
  • Draw them in your notebook, and write down what part of the tree you found them on.

    Questions:
  • Do you notice any insects or other creatures that were found throughout the log?
  • Which insects are feeding on the log?
  • What’s eating the insects feeding on the log?
  • Are there plants growing out of the log?
  • Do you see any molds or fungi?
  • Use field guides to identify the creatures you find.

Come back once a month and examine the log:

  • Does the log have more creatures?
  • Note the changes to the wood and the amount of humus that has formed.
  • Record how long it takes for the log to completely decay.

Forest Facts:

  • A decaying log can house 20,000 creatures.
  • One third of all forest species live in fallen trees, from chipmunks and salamanders, to carpenter ants, fungi, and woodlice.
 

Bible Lesson
A dying tree can give life to all around it. Sometimes new life can only come from death. When seeds are planted in the ground, they must first die before the plant can grow. That’s a lot like us. Before Jesus can grow in us, we must die to ourselves. You may ask, How do I do that? Well, we have to ask Jesus to take away our selfish desires. When we live for ourselves, we can’t live for Jesus. Did you know that selfish people are the most unhappy people in the world? In order for us to find joy in life, we must give ourselves, our thoughts, our plans, our wants and even our words over to Jesus. You can trust Him because He knows what is best for us.

 

 

 
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