Searching for Decomposers in the Garden

Part of the "Rotting Away" Collection


Students will search for and analyze fungi outside.

Estimated Time

1 Hour

Setting Required



  • S2L1b. Students will relate seasonal changes to observations of how a tree changes throughout a school year.
  • S2L1d. Students will identify fungi as living organisms.
  • S2E3a. Students will recognize the effects that occur in a specific area caused by weather, plants, animals, and/or people.


  • Journals or 8.5×11 copy paper (1 per student)
  • Coloring supplies (enough for each student)
  • Magnifiers (1 per student)


  1. Take students on a walk outside in the schoolyard and around school gardens. Equip students with magnifiers as well as their garden or science journals, and pencils for sketching decomposers.
  2. Encourage students to look for rotting logs or explore in the compost bin (if one is available) for evidence of fungus or invertebrates working on decomposition. In their journals, students can record, sketch, label, and describe the fungus and invertebrates that they are able to find.
  3. Upon returning to the classroom, students can use a Soil Food Web poster to further research what they observed in the garden.

Extension: Worm Your Way Out of This!