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Plant & Animal Secrets Unit Share
Mystery 6 of 6
Why would you want an old log in your backyard?
Read-Along Mystery 6 image
Why would you want an old log in your backyard?
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Hi, my name is Sam.

Every day, after school, I go to Grandma’s house to play.

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There used to be an old, dead tree in one corner of Grandma’s backyard.

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My dad cut it down.

He chopped up the branches for firewood.

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Grandma stopped him before he cut it all up.

“Leave that part alone,” she said, pointing to a big log lying in the grass.

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“Why do you want that old log?” I asked.

Grandma smiled.

“It’s not for me,” she said. “I have some friends who need that log.”

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I thought about Grandma’s friends.

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Her neighbors come to drink tea with her.

My dad and I come and visit.

But none of us need a log.

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I wondered: Why would anyone want a rotten old log?

What good is that?

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stop & talk Stop & Talk: What good is a rotten old log? Who needs it?

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“Why do your friends need a log?” I asked.

“Keep your eyes open and you’ll see,” she said.

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A few days later, I saw something move on the old log.

I went to see what it was.

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stop & talk

Stop & Talk

Can you see what I found on the old log?
Look carefully.

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“Grandma!” I shouted. “I found a lizard on the old log! His scales look a lot like the bark.”

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“That’s one of my friends,” she said.

“He comes to the log to hunt for ants and other insects to eat.”

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get up & move Get Up & Move: Pretend you’re a lizard on a log, looking for ants to eat. How many ants can you gobble up?

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Grandma sat outside with me.

“Let’s watch the log,” she said. “Maybe some more of my friends will come visit.”

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“What’s that?” Grandma asked.

“A squirrel!” I said. “He’s found a snack. Why did he climb on the log to eat it?”

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“I think he’s keeping watch for the neighbor’s cat,” Grandma said.

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“Look over there!” Grandma said.

“That’s my friend, the nuthatch. She’s catching insects to eat.”

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“If we watch long enough,” Grandma said, “maybe we’ll see the deer mouse that lives in the hole in the log.”

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“At night, I see other visitors,” she said.

“Like the toad that lives in a burrow under the log.”

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“Why do so many animals come to that old log?” I asked.

“Think about it,” Grandma said. “You can figure it out.”

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stop & talk Stop & Talk: Why do you think so many animals come to the log in the yard?

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I thought about it.

Then I said, “I think they all find something they need there. Maybe something to eat.”

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“Or somewhere to hide.”

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“So tell me—why do you think I kept that old log?” Grandma asked.

“Because it makes so many animals happy,” I said.

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Just then, a chipmunk ran along the top of the log.

It stopped to stare at us.

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Grandma laughed and said, “And because you’re never lonely if you have an old log for your animal friends to visit.”

THE END

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Optional Activity: Animal Visitors

Grandma had an old log in her yard for her animal friends to visit.

Discuss:
What else could you put in a yard or park to make a place that animals would like to visit?

Watch the videos below for ideas.

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You've completed the Read-Along & Optional Activity!

If you have more time, view the extensions.

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity & exploration you just completed.

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Activity: Sensory Adventures

  • If you have an outdoor area with a few trees, consider these activities from the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve. These “Sensory Adventures” let your students get to know trees using all of their senses.
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Overview
Grade K
Topic Plant & Animal Needs
Focus Animal Needs & Changing the Environment
Print Prep
Activity Prep

Switch to narrated voiceover

In this Read-Along Mystery, Sam wonders why his grandmother wants to keep an old log in her yard—until he begins to meet a few of her friends. The Mystery includes a short exercise where students pretend to be lizards eating ants, and discover why old logs are helpful to animals. You can extend the lesson with the optional activity, Trees & Animals, where students watch chipmunks in their log home and act out many different animals living in a tree.

Preview optional activity

Prep Instructions

This activity does not require supplies.

As an optional activity, we suggest having students discuss what they could put in a yard or park to attract animals. We include videos that show birds in a birdbath, at a bird feeder, and in a bird house, reinforcing the idea that animals are are attracted to spots that offer food, water, and shelter.

Overview
Grade K
Topic Plant & Animal Needs
Focus Animal Needs & Changing the Environment
Extensions