Who lives here?

Living things are all around us. Some of them are big and easy to spot like trees, but others are small and are harder to see if we don’t look carefully. Once we start to look carefully, it can be surprising how many living things are around us every day. You can find out just how many things live near you by looking closely and keeping a species tally.


First, choose a place that you can easily explore. It might be your backyard, the sidewalk in front of your house, or the path you follow when you walk to school. Keep it small so that you can easily explore all the nooks and crannies in your spot. Once you have found your place, find a notebook and write two categories on a blank page: Animals and Plants. Take a walk around your space and make a tally mark under the appropriate category for each different living thing you see. Try looking for small things by getting low to the ground, peeking under rocks, and on the branches of trees and plants. Remember, you want to find out how many different species live at your spot so if you see two of the same thing, like two dandelion flowers, mark one tally mark. Count up the total number of plants and animals you found and write that number at the bottom of the page. Try this again at a different time of day or on a different day of the week. Does your number change? Try visiting your spot regularly for a few weeks or months. Do you see more, or less things at different times of year?



You can keep track of all the things you see over time by keeping a species list. Every time you explore your spot see something new write it down on your list. Don’t worry if you don’t know the name of everything. You can try to identify your mystery item using a field guide or you can write down a short description of it that will help you remember what it looked like. Try describing its shape, color and size  or draw a quick sketch. If you have access to a camera, you can take a picture of it to help you remember what it looked like. Keep adding to your list each time you visit your site and see something new. After working on your list over a few visits to your spot, look at how many things you would have seen. Are you surprised that there was so much living near you? The more often you go outside to visit your spot, the more things you will notice and the better you will understand the place you live.


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