Explore Lichen with our FREE Lichen Study Nature Journaling activities
Have you ever looked closely at the trees or rocks and noticed those beautiful patterns of green, blue, yellow, or even purple? That’s probably lichen you’ve found. Lichen species are found all over the world from the desert to the Arctic tundra. This FREE Lichen Nature Journaling activity comes from our Reindeer Literature and Activity Guide and is the perfect study this time of year.
What is Lichen?
Lichens are actually formed from two different organisms working together as a single unit: an alga and a fungus. Reindeer lichen (Cladonia Rangiferina), also called reindeer moss, is a type of lichen that covers the tundra and is an important part of the Arctic’s ecosystem. It becomes one of the main food sources for reindeer over the winter season.
Fungi are not able to create their own food. They don’t have any of the green pigment chlorophyll use by other plants to convert the Sun’s light into energy. Instead, they rely on other organisms for food. Mushrooms are a type of fungi. These organisms are very important for their role in decomposing organic matter. In the unique relationship found in lichen, the alga makes the food that the fungus can’t on its own. The fungus gives the lichen a strong and stable physical form. This helps the lichen survive the harsh climate up north. Lichen is a great example of mutualism, when two or more species interact and help each other. There are three main types of lichens.
Types of Lichen
Shrubby, hair-like, or cup-like growth often found on branches. Reindeer moss is a fruticose lichen.
Form a crust over the surface of a rock, soil, or even your roof shingles. Look for vibrant colors like yellow, orange, red, and green.
Grow slowly and look leaf-like with a distinct top and bottom of the plant.
Free Lichen Study
What you need:
- lichen sample
- magnifying glass
- microscope (optional)
- FREE Lichen Study Nature Journaling printable
what you do:
Go on a ‘spot the lichen’ hunt in your neighborhood. Look for them living on tree bark, rocks, or the sides of old buildings. Bring your nature journal to sketch what you find or bring home some fallen branches to study. [Ask a parent first before touching nature finds.] These structures look amazing under a microscope or magnifying glass! Use the Nature Journaling Lichen Study printable to record your observations on your lichen’s characteristics, location, and sub-type.
Sign up for our Books and Willows Newsletter at the end of this post to download your FREE Lichen Study Nature Journaling sheet. You’ll find the link to our subscriber page with all our FREE learning resources in your Welcome Email.
Reindeer Literature and Activity Guide
This is just one of the many activities in our Reindeer Study & Tales Family Literature and Activity Guide. Join us on a holiday adventure as we learn all about the life of Reindeer alongside a few of our favorite reindeer-inspired read-alouds! We’ll travel to the Arctic tundra and learn about the great reindeer migrations, their families, and adaptations that help them thrive in their polar habitat. You’ll find open-and-go nature studies, STEM projects, crafts, recipes, gentle language activities, and more! Our storybooks will have us playing with “reindeer verbs,” narrating with our new story puppets, learning about nouns, and exploring plot development.