Galls Galore – Background

A stand of goldenrod, its rugged stalks standing tall in a wintery field, is a good place to look for galls, one of nature’s small wonders. Many of the stalks sport hard, round swellings about an inch in diameter. Cradled in each, awaiting spring, is the larva of a gall-making insect. Its life cycle, like those of many other gall-makers, involves a remarkable association between an animal and its particular plant host.

A gall is an abnormal growth on a plant caused by another organism, most commonly an insect or a mite, but also by nematodes, viruses, fungi or bacteria. The gall-makers induce the gall to form in a specific plant, its host species, while that part of the plant is growing. For an insect or mite, the swelling becomes its larval home, providing both food and shelter as it develops. Of the more than two thousand different kinds of galls in North America, most are caused by wasps, Continue reading Galls Galore – Background

Galls Galore – Activities

FOCUS:  Odd bumps, lumps and bulges on twigs, buds, and weed stalks might be galls, swellings on plants that are homes for an insect, mite or other organism. A gall-maker causes its particular host plant to form a bulge in which it will live and feed for a time. Galls on buds, twigs, roots or leaves of plants provide a safe home for the gall-makers and are an essential part of their life cycles.

Introduction:  Hold up a goldenrod gall and ask if children have noticed these growing along roadsides. Now, pass out a gall to each child to examine in That’s My Gall.


Objective: To make observations and ask questions about goldenrod ball galls. Continue reading Galls Galore – Activities

Galls Galore – Puppet Show

A Swell Day

Characters: Reddy Red Squirrel, Willow Pinecone Gall, Oak Apple Gall, Goldenrod Ball Gall, Raspberry Knot Gall.

Reddy Red Squirrel  One piney cone, two piney cones. I love pinecones and the little seeds I find inside them. And I’m counting on them to get me through the winter. Three piney cones…Oh, look! Here’s a pinecone I must have missed.

Willow Pinecone Gall Oh boo, hoo. Everyone thinks I’m a pinecone, but I’m not. If I were a pine, I’d have needles, wouldn’t I?

Squirrel  Hey, you’re right. How can you be a pine without needles? Continue reading Galls Galore – Puppet Show

Galls Galore – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Galls Galore – Standards