Harry Humus

The story of Harry Humus, a particle of matter, and his journey through the cycle of matter

Harry Humus
Learning outcome

To introduce/revise a range of environmental concepts.

Success criteria
  • I can identify 5 things in the soil
  • I can describe different parts and their roles in the life of a tree
  • I can show how a bat has adapted to find its prey
  • I can explain and demonstrate a food chain using the correct vocabulary (producer, consumer, primary, secondary, energy)
  • I can create a story to show how matter never disappears
  • For upper Key Stage 2
  • Duration 2 hours
Session plan

Introduction (10 minutes) Italics = suggested storyline

Introduce Harry as the main character of the story you are about to tell, hopefully they will get to meet him later. Harry’s story starts right back at the big bang.

Main 1 (50mins)

Part one:

Scientists believe that when the Earth was created it was a ball of lava; slowly the outside cooled to form a crust. Harry found himself floating around in the lava underneath the Earth’s crust. All of a sudden, Harry was shot out through a volcano. As the lava cooled it turned to rock. Harry’s rock is weathered over the years.
Introduce children to the concept of the big bang. Discuss ways in which the rock could be damaged or destroyed, e.g. weathering and erosion. (5mins)

Part two:

Harry is blown away with the dust. He lands in the soil.
Discuss that there is a lot more to the soil than we can see and we are going to have a closer look at what is there. Give each child a plastic bag and a magnifying glass. Use a small trowel to give each child a handful of soil. Their hands must be INSIDE the bags when the soil is placed on their hands. Ask each child to try and find at least 5 different things within the soil. Discuss what they have found. Introduce concept of decay of organic matter (15mins)

Part three:

From the soil, Harry is sucked up by a trees roots.
To demonstrate how a tree works, use the ‘Build-a-tree’ activity with the children. (30mins)

Stage Name Description Action No of children (30)
1 Heartwood Big, strong, hard 1
2 Taproot Support, anchor 1
3 Lateral roots Root hairs, water, nutrients Slurp 6
4 Sapwood Transports waterand nutrients Wee 7
5 Cambium layer Leaves and branches, photosynthesis Whoosh, energy 7
6 Bark Protects - weather, disease, animals etc. Bark-bark 8

Break 30 minutes

Main 2 (50mins)

Part Four:

Unfortunately Harry’s tree doesn’t survive. Harry’s tree is blown over in a storm. As the tree falls, sap leaks from the bark and this is eaten by a moth.
Discuss what could have happened to the tree. This question could be posed before the break to stimulate answers. The moth is then eaten by a bat. Discuss how the bat found the moth; using echo location.
Play game Bat Moth with the children. Children stand in a circle. Choose one child to be blindfolded (the bat) and another to be the moth. The bat calls “bat”, each time this happens the moth then calls “moth” until the bat catches them. The rest of the children are to act as the wall and call “wall” if the bat gets too close. (15mins)

Part five:

The bat then gets eaten by an owl.
An owl is an indigenous bird to Britain. Talk about what this means. Sit in silence for a few minutes listening for bird calls: how do they differ and why? Why do birds sing/call? If there are few birds around, use the bag of toy birds. (15mins)

Part six:

Recap the story from the tree, what can we see happening here?
By this point the children will hopefully have noticed that there is a food chain. Talk about the different vocabulary within a food chain i.e. producer, consumer, primary, secondary, energy. In small groups they will be creating their own food chains, using Harry’s story or making their own. Firstly they will need to decide on a habitat for their food chain i.e. which animals it will involve. For each step of the food chain they will need to create an action and think carefully about where they get their energy from. (20mins)

Sun Tree Caterpillar Bird
 Each child says in turn  “I am the sun. I give my energy to the tree”  “I am a tree, the producer. I give my energy to the caterpillar” “I am a caterpillar, the primary consumer. I give my energy to the bird” “I am a bird, the secondary consumer. I get my energy from the caterpillar, the tree and the sun”

Plenary (10mins)

The owl gets hit by a car and then eaten by a fox that has found it. The fox that Harry ended up in eventually died.
Re-cap Harry’s story and go over the key areas that have been covered. Finish Harry’s story. Discuss what would happen to the fox when it died. Discuss words such as rot, decay, decompose. Now they are ready to meet Harry. Show the children Harry Humus. Discuss how Harry has ended up back in soil and talk about the cycle of matter.
To finish off the session ask each child to bury a dead leaf in the ground to represent Harry going back into the ground again. Get the children to think about where they would like their Harry to get to and how he might get there.

Less able children

  • Lower level of vocabulary to suit ability
  • Success criteria – find some things in the soil
  • Adult assistance with creating food chains

More able children

Raise level of vocabulary to suit ability.

Useful prior learning in school

  • Life processes
  • Food chains
  • Plants - growth, photosynthesis

Possible follow up activities

  • As in prior learning
  • Create a storyboard/comic for Harry’s journey
  • Investigate own soil at school, is it the same?
  • Perform build-a-tree or food chains to others at school
  • Creative writing – continue their own Harry story
Health and safety checks
  • Handling soil – bags to cover hands when holding soil
  • Bat Moth – clear boundaries for the game; prepare children around the edge of the circle; clear, level space to play game; blindfolded chn must not run
  • Ensure that children are sent to wash their hands at end of the first and second session