Leaf Litter – Puppet Show

Litter Critter Jig

Characters: Woodcock, Dead Leaf, Millipede, Fungus, Eft, Springtail.


Wanda Woodcock (dancing) Step to the right, give a little jiggle, step to the left, make the worms wiggle.

Dead Leaf  That’s a nice dance you’re doing, whoever you are.

Woodcock  I’m Wanda Woodcock, and I’m not dancing. I’m jiggling the ground to make the worms wiggle so I can catch ’em!

Leaf  Good luck with that. At least you’re not trying to eat me. Everyone else on the forest floor wants to eat us dead leaves.

Woodcock  You do look a bit chewed up.

Leaf  Yes, bacteria, fungi, millipedes – everyone’s taken a nip. Soon I’ll be nothing but dirt. But that’s okay. Someday I’ll be a leaf again – or maybe a timber-doodle like you.

Woodcock  Are you calling me a timber-doodle?

Leaf  That’s your nickname, isn’t it?

Woodcock  Well, yes, because I live here among the timbers…

Leaf  …and doodle away the hours dancing.

Woodcock  I’m not dancing! I’m hunting for worms!

Leaf  Well it looks like a dance. (jiggles) Hey, something’s making me dance!

Woodcock  Here, move over so I can see what’s underneath you in the leaf litter. (leaf exits) Maybe a yummy worm! (millipede enters) Nope! Who are you?

Millipede  My name is Milli-pede which means “thousand feet,” but I’ve never counted. I will sing you my song. (singing)  All dee leaves are falling down, falling down, falling down. All dee leaves are falling down, how dee-licious!

Woodcock  That’s nice. Did you write it?

Millipede  Yes. It’s part of my work. We millipedes are decomposers. We compose dee songs and we decompose dee leaves.

Woodcock  I get the song part, but what do you do to the leaves?

Millipede  We decompose them – it means take them apart. We eat dead leaves and chew them into little bits. It’s important work, for if we didn’t do it, the leaves would pile up to the sky.

Woodcock  Worms eat dead leaves too. They grind them up in their gizzards.

Millipede  Yes, worms are decomposers too.

Woodcock  But woodcocks are meat-eaters. We catch worms and grind them up in our gizzards! Or, we could eat a millipede…

Millipede  Uh oh, this could be my swan song! (singing) You put dee right feet in, you put dee right feet out, you better not be pokey and you hurry on out! (exits)

Woodcock  Wow! A one-millipede chorus line. Oh shucks, it got away. Well, must be a worm down here somewhere… (walks)

Fungus  Look out! You’re stepping on my threads!

Woodcock  Threads? You mean all these white strings in the leaf litter?

Fungus  Yes! I am a fungus, and those are my fungal threads.

Woodcock  Do you sew a lot?

Fungus  Not that kind of thread! Fungal threads are a bit like roots – only they’re much more than roots. They ooze juices to digest my food – tasty dead things like leaves and twigs.

Woodcock  Dead things? So you’re another decomposer, like worms and millipedes?

Fungus  A decomposer, yes. But I am nothing like worms and millipedes. They are animals! I am a fungus!

Woodcock  There’s a fungus among-gus!

Fungus  Yes, just call me Gus. There are miles and miles of fungal threads all through the soil and the leaf litter. Mushrooms like me are just a tiny part of the fungus – like an apple on a tree.

Woodcock   Well I’m looking for worms, not apples or mushrooms. So bye, Gus.

Fungus  So long, Wanda. (exits)

Woodcock   Now where was I?

Springtail (hops in and out) Boing! Boing! Now you see me, now you don’t.

Woodcock  Huh? Who are you and how do you disappear like that?

Springtail  I’m a springtail, got this little spring-loaded tail – so I can spring away from danger.

Woodcock  What’s the danger? You’re too small to make much of a meal.

Springtail  Well if there’s a red eft around here, I’m in big trouble. But I don’t see one, so I’ll go back to eating mushrooms.

Woodcock  You like eating mushrooms?

Springtail  Oh yes. I love ’em. I go to a lot of truffle to eat mushrooms. They really put a spring in my step. Boing! (hops, exits)

Woodcock  Wow – that’s some spring action! Well, now for that worm! (pokes, hops back) Yuck! Something tastes awful!

Eddie Eft  I do! It’s my poisonous skin.

Woodcock  You’re no worm!

Eft  No, I’m Eddie Eft. I’m a young newt. When I grow up, I’ll live in a pond.

Woodcock  Well upond my word!

Eft  But for now my home is here on the forest floor. It’s perfect for salamanders – damp and shady and there’s lots to eat.

Woodcock  Are you a decomposer?

Eft  No, I’m a fierce predator, grrr. I eat little worms and stuff, but today I’m hunting for springtails.

Woodcock  But they’re so small, it’s hardly worth the effort.

Eft  It is if you eat enough, and there are millions of them in the leaf litter. They like to eat fungi, and I like to eat them!

Woodcock  Golly, it’s a busy world here – efts eating springtails, springtails eating fungi, fungi and millipedes and worms all decomposing dead things and turning them into soil.

Eft  Sure! Here’s where everything that lives in the forest gets recycled, so the nutrients can become part of living things again.

Woodcock  Yup. We each have a role to play on the forest floor. My role is eating worms and millipedes!

Eft  Guess you’d better get back to dancing.

Woodcock  I’m not dancing…well, maybe I am!  You like worms too, Eddie Eft. Wanna dance?

Eft  Okay! (both together) Step to the right, give a little jiggle, step to the left, make the worms wiggle. (exit)


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