Decomposition Drama

An indoor activity where youngsters act out the decomposition process.

To learn what decomposition is and identify decomposers
To understand the importance of decomposers/decomposition to the ecological community
To begin to understand how humans fit in (difference between biodegradable and
non-biodegradable waste)

Chalkboard and chalk
Script of Decomposition Drama (See below)
9 X 12 construction paper
Colored markers, scissors, string or tape

Older students write the words "decomposition" and "decomposers" on chalkboard. They display and review the Decomposition Cycle; identify the role of decomposers; name some small animals, earthworms, centipedes, beetles, sow and pill bugs, fungi, mold, microbes, etc.
Older students work with second graders to prepare construction paper signs for each youngster. To insure full class participation, divide class in groups of eight. Instruct and supervise groups as they label and appropriately illustrate eight signs as follows. In order of appearance: Narrator, Plant, Snow, Rain, Decomposer (worm, fungus, salamander, etc.), Soil, Sun, Seed.
For each performance, eight second grade students hang signs around neck or tape them to shirts.
To explain narration and sequence, older students pass out scripts to every second grader and role model how actors listen and dramatically respond to the narrator's words.

Narration and Drama
Narrators read aloud script (see below). Actors listen and act out the story by responding to prompts of name clues. To include the entire class recruit differing groups of eight for rehearsals, classroom presentations, and performances in different classrooms.

Script (Drama opens with single plant. Actors appear on stage when they hear their names.)
Here we have a Plant. It's growing fine, but the weather is changing. It's becoming winter. It's too cold for the Plant, so the Plant starts to die. Some days Rain falls. Some days Snow falls. The dying Plant gets soggy. Some days the Sun shines, and the Plant becomes withered, shrunken, and old. In the spring, a Decomposer, deep in the soil, begins to crawl out. The Decomposer is hungry, and it stumbles around looking for a meal! The Decomposer eats the old withered Plant. And that is how Soil is made. Now, there's some great new Soil, thanks to all our stars. Look! Here's a Seed waiting to grow. Here comes a new Plant. Let's have a big hand for our decomposition stars!

Post-Performance Discussion Questions

  1. How long do you think it took for the plant to become soil?
  2. Could the plant have been something else?
  3. What could it have been? (possible answers include, leaves, dead animal, dead tree etc.)
  4. What could the decomposer have been? (what about a snail, pill bug, fungus etc.?)
  5. What would have happened if a plastic bottle were in the Decomposition Drama? Would it have become soil? How about a plastic bag?
Students record responses in Computer Journals.