Teaching Life Science with Children’s Literature: A Log’s Life

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A Log’s Life, written by Wendy Pfeffer and illustrated by Robin Brickman, tells about the life cycle of an oak tree.  In the beginning, a large oak tree stands in the forest.  Pfeffer tells us how the tree supports many different living things such as, porcupines, squirrels, woodpeckers, beetles, slugs, snails and fungi.  Then one day a storm causes the oak tree to fall and the tree becomes a log.  Pfeffer continues to explain how the log supports other lifeforms such as, millipedes, termites, ants, and salamanders.  The log provides food and shelter for many years until it is broken down into nothing but a rich bed of soil.  In the end, an acorn falls and a squirrel buries it in the rich soil.  Soon after, another oak tree is born only one day to become another log.

The illustrations by Brickman are amazing in this book and would appeal to children, especially those who have not seen some of the creatures that Pfeffer and Brickman bring to our attention.

Curriculum Connections
A Log’s Life would be an excellent book for children who are in kindergarten through the third grade.  The book describes the life cycle of an oak tree, and how once the tree is dead, it is still an important part of our ecological system. (VA SOL 2.5a-c)  Children will learn how something as simple as a log provides food and shelter to many different species of living organisms. (VA SOL 1.5a)  Children will also discover how another oak tree is reproduced. (VA SOL K.7c)  Young children will love the illustrations and will be introduced to knew types of wildlife such as, salamanders, millipedes, and termites.  Older students should be able to read this book in a guided reading session and learn how important trees are to our environment.  A teacher may incorporate why it is important for the human race to protect or plant trees.  (VA SOL 3.5 b&d and 3.10a)

Additional Resources

  • The Decomposition link explains how and why living things decompose and why it is important to the earth’s ecological system.  It includes a slide show on decomposition.
  • This Living in a Tree link gives a lesson plan for teachers of early elementary students on the characteristics of animals that live in trees.
  • Animal Inn is a link that provides an outdoor activity for students who are searching for evidence in the wild of how animals use dead and living trees.
  • Trees: A Tremendous Renewable Resource takes you to the Kids F.A.C.E. website.  Kids can learn how we depend on trees to live and how planting trees is good for the environment.

Book: A Log’s Life
Author: Wendy Pfeffer
Illustrator: Robin Brickman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 1997
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0-689-80636-1