Lesson Ideas for Rainforest Unit

Contributor, Becky Settlemoir


1. Rain Forest – Helen Cowcher
2. The Rain Forest – Scholastic Big Book Magazine
3. Life in the Rain forest – Ranger Rick
4. Animals in Danger – Ranger Rick

1. A Look Around the Rain Forest – Ed Perez – Willowisp Press
2. Rain Forest – Helen Cowcher – Scholastic
3. Traveling to Tondo – Verna Aadema – Scholastic
4. Come on into the Rain Forest – Judy Nayer – Modern Curriculum Press
5. Welcome to the Green House – Jane Yolen – Scholastic
6. The Great Kapok Tree – Lynne Cherry – Trumpet
7. Best Friends – Jacqueline Rogers – Scholastic
8. One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest – Jean Craighead George – Harper Collins
9. Curious George Books
10. Tigress – Helen Cowcher – Scholastic
11. Komodo! – Peter Sis – Green Willow Books
12. Aqassu – Legend of the Leopard King – Rick Dupri – Carolrhoda
13. The Rain Forest – A Discovery Book – Scholastic
14. Endangered Animals of the Rain Forest – Sandra Uchitel – Price Stern Sloan
15. Monkeys in the Jungle – Angie Sage – Houghton Mifflin
16. Jungle Animals – Frank Buck – Random House
17. Rain Forest Secrets – Arthur Dorros – Scholastic
18. Just a Dream – Chris Van Allsburg – Scholastic
19. For the Love of Our Earth – PK Hallinan – Ideals Children’s Books
20. Life in the Rain Forests – Lucy Baker – Scholastic

1. KWL Chart
2. Story Map
3. Reading Response
4. Rewrite Story
5. Skill – Comprehension – Summary Tree Of The Great Kapok Tree
6. Skill – Sequencing – The Great Kapok Tree Puzzle
7. Skill – Cause and Effect – Animal Antics In The Amazon
8. Skill – Recalling Details – Those Remarkable Rain Forest
9. Skill – Critical Thinking – Going, Going, Going
10. Vocabulary and word bank
11. Skill – Base Words – adding -ed and -ing
12. Skill – Compound Words
13. Skill – Blends
14. Skill – Using a Dictionary – Rain Forest Dictionary
15. Skill – Verbs – Swingers, Sliders, Creepers, Gliders
16. Skill – Fact and Opinion – Plants, Plants, And More Plants
17. Skill – Plurals – Look Through Come On Into The Rain Forest and find plurals
18. Skill – Plurals – Classifying Animals
19. Skill – Proofreading – Use sentences from rain forest books
20. Skill – Adjectives – Word Pictures
21. Skill – Plurals – Game One Shoe, Two Shoes
22. Skill – Plurals – Categorizing Plurals
23. Skill – Adjectives – Hear the Rain Forest
24. Skill – Verbs – Rain Forest Animals
25. Plural Bingo

Week One
1. Pass out spelling word list.

1. rain forest
2. world
3. jungle
4. vine
5. trunk
6. leaves
7. animals
8. treetops
9. undergrowth
10. layers

Students are to fill-in shape puzzle.

2. Put words in abc order.
3. Write a sentence with each spelling word.
4. Missing letters worksheet and fill-in the blank.
5. Test and word find.

Week Two
1. Pass out spelling word list.

1. butterfly
2. monkey
3. snake
4. lizard
5. bird
6. flowers
7. spices
8. fruit
9. vegetables
10. nuts

Students are to fill-in shape puzzle.

2. Missing letters and fill-in the blank.
3. Put words in abc order.
4. Write a sentence with each spelling word.
5. Test and word find.


1. Write riddles about rain forest animals.
2. Write a story from an animals point of view and go through the writing process. Use a story web and maybe a story map. Do one together with the class first.
3. Rewrite book – When the Alligator Came to Our Class. New title – When the Jaguar Came to My House. Use the Jaguar head shape book.
4. Animal Autobiographies – Ask students to select one rain forest animal and do research to learn more about its way of life. Then let each imagine and write what the animal would say about how it was born and grew up, what foods it eats, where it finds shelter, and how it feels about changes in the rain forest. Have the students form groups to share their finished “autobiographies.”
5. At Home in the Rain Forest – Ask students to imagine being transported to the middle of a tropical rain forest and to think how their lives would change. Consider such factors as food, clothes, school, entertainment, medical care, etc. What would they gain? What would they loose?
6. Jungle Journals – Provide students with a way of capturing their favorite experiences. Give each student a supply of blank paper stapled between construction paper. Have student decorate the front covers. Encourage students to write rain forest related notes, summarize what they have learned, and describe their favorite activities in the journal. They can keep a list of the books read to them.
7. Hear the Rain Forest – Have students close their eyes and imagine they are in the rain forest. While they have their eyes closed ask them to visualize the answers to the following questions:

What animals do you see?
What are the animals doing?
What sounds are they making?
What kind of plants do you see?
What is the temperature like?
How do you feel?
Now have the students open their eyes and write a paragraph describing
what they pictured in their mind.

8. An Accordian Book – Have children compile a list describing words used in Come on into the Rain Forest. Help children make an accordian book. Use 8 1/2″ x 14″ construction paper and accordian-fold it into four different sections. In each horizontal section children can write one picture caption that includes a describing word. Sentences should tell information they’ve learned about rain forests or express the children’s feelings about them. Children can then illustrate some or all of the sections of their accordian book.
9. Word Bank Strategy – Write a sample on the board for the students to do together. Model looking at the vocabulary word bank. Then have students do on by themselves.

Title –
Written and illustrated by –
The_____is a rain forest animal. It lives_____ and eats_____. A_____can_____and_____.

10. What a Discovery! Scientists are still finding new plants and animals that live in the rain forest. Pretend you are a scientist who has just found a new plant or animal. Make a report about your discovery.

1. What is it:
2. What does it look like:
3. The name I have given it:
4. Where it lives: (Should include what layer it is found living.)
5. Unusual things about it:
6. This is a picture of my discovery:

11. Kapok Tree Story Starter Worksheet page.
12. Amazon Pass-Around Poem to be done as a whole group on chart tablet.
13. Tell about the rain forest picture.
14. Roving through the rain forest booklet.
15. Imagine you are a special bird that lives only in one kind of tree growing in LaSelva rain forest in Central America. No person has ever seen your feathers or heard your song. Write a poem or story to humans.
16. Animal Opposites – A(n)_____is tall, but a(n)_____short.

HANDWRITING – Write each in cursive.

1. sloths jaguar
tapirs machines
anteaters humans
toucans howler monkeys
macaws blue morpho butterfly

2. rain forest Kapok tree
creatures jungle
vines / lianas fungi
leaves seedlings
rootlets decay

3. canopy tropical
emergent equator
understory Amazon
floor scientists
earth temperatures

4. banana avocado
peanuts Cacao / chocolate
orange coconut
pineapple lemon
papaya pepper

5. mountain gorilla poison dart frog
ocelot harpy eagle
giant river otter fruit bats
boa constrictor tree porcupines
basilisk lizard leopard

6. Come On Into The Rain Forest
Life In The Rain Forests
Welcome To The Green House
Rain Forest
The Great Kapok Tree

7. Riddle Me A Rain Forest
I am (color).
I have (numbers) legs.
I have (scales, fur, feathers, a hard body).
I live (on the ground, in the trees).
I (slither, walk, run, fly).
Write one other fact about the animal.
What animal am I?

8. Rain Forest Rhapsody
Oh where, oh where have our rain forest gone?
Oh where, oh where can they be?
With their flowers and forests and fabulous birds.
Oh where can they be?

They hold great treasures of trees and plants,
Of foods and seasonings galore,
And medicines that will fight disease,
But what if they are no more?

Oh what, oh what can we do to save
The forests and animals too?
And have the medicines for our ills –
Well, here is what we can do.

Conserve the products we have right now,
That are made from rain forest wood.
And only purchase our country’s beef –
Yes, that would also be good.

And tell your friends and family
About our rain forests’ plight.
If we work hard to save them now,
Then things may turn out just right!

9. Five Beautiful Parrots

Five beautiful parrots in a rain forest tree.
Sitting all together, happy as can be.

Someone saw their feathers and took them away.
Only of our beautiful parrots got to stay.

Four beautiful parrots really like that tree.
Someone cut it down, now there are three.

Three beautiful parrots didn’t know what to do.
Along came a bulldozer, now there are two.

Two beautiful parrots weren’t having much fun.
The rain forest started burning, now there is one.

One lonely parrot didn’t have a place to stay.
His home, the rain forest has gone away.

1. Teach punctuation and capitalization using sentences from the story.
Then make up other sentences about the rain forest for extra practice.

2. Classifying Animals
Have the children name the animals in Come into the Rain Forest.
children can write the singular and plural forms of the animal names.

3. Categorizing plurals
Have children reread the story and look for the plurals and write the
singular forms. Have the children group the plurals by category.
Write the following categories: add -s, add -es, change y to i and
add -es.

4. One Shoe, Two shoe (plurals game)
Place a large plastic hoop (or substitute a length of string tied into
a circle) on the floor. Ask children to take off their shoes and
them at random in the hoop. Have nouns from Come on into the Rain
Forest written on cards and insert one card in each shoe. Ask
children to find their own shoes and classify them according to the
inserted word cards. Singular go inside the hoop : plurals go
outside. Then, before children can retrieve and put their shoes back
on, they must use each of their nouns in a sentence. To extend the
activity, you could use three hoops labeled “add -s,” “add -es,” and
“change y to i and add -es.”

5. Fact or Opinion Worksheet – Plants, Plants, And More Plants.

6. Adjectives worksheet – Swingers, Slders, Creepers, Gliders.

7. Dictionary Skills worksheet – Rain Forest Dictionary.

1. Students are to use rain forest work bank and write three work
problems. Teacher takes student written word problems and make up a
worksheet with the word problems for the students to work.

2. Teacher can make graphs using rain forest animals and then make up
math problems using the graph.

3. Tally animals and plants found in a rain forest picture or one of the

4. Estimate the height of a tall tree
Most trees in the rain forest are about 120 feet tall. Very tall
trees reach some 200 feet. The record holder is a tree 276 feet
tall; its top branches spread out over an entire acre!
To estimate the height of trees and compare them with trees in the
rain forest Find a tall tree with some space around it. Take 10 or
so giant steps away from the tree. Face the tree and hold a 12-inch
ruler with the base of the tree. Slowly step back until the top of
the ruler lines up with the treetop. Put a mark on the ground just
under where the ruler is. The height of the tree is approximately the
distance from the tree to that point on the ground. Use a tape
measure or a yard stick to find the estimated height of the tree.

5. Select a small area of the forest floor, about 2 feet square, and
carefully count the kinds of plants you find there. Multiply this
number by 10. That’s at least how many kinds of life you would find
in the same size area in the rain forest.

6. Numeration and problem Solving worksheet – Rain forest Puzzlers

7. Rain Forest open worksheet to write in teachers own problems.

8. Graphing a check list worksheet – Made in the Rain Forest

9. Problem solving worksheet – Rain Forest Facts

10. Graphing worksheet – Animal favorites
Have children choose their favorite rain forest animals and then
graph the results.

1. From Top to Bottom
The rain forest, with its millions of plants and animals, forms a special community or ecosystem. From the to of the trees to beneath the forest floor, all parts of the community work together to make sur that the rain forest thrives. use the following information to introduce the layers of life found in a rain forest.

Emergent Layer: The tallest trees scattered throughout the rain forest are called emergents. There are usually only one or two of these towering trees (115 to 250 feet tall) per acre. Most emergents have small leaves and slender trunks. birds such as the toucan and the macaw find refuge and a bird’s-eye view of the forest in these treetops.

Canopy: The canopy has tree 65-100 feet in height. These trees, along with the emergents, form a covering over the forest that acts like a giant umbrella or canopy. Here sunlight and rain are
plentiful. The woody vines, called lianas that twist around the trunks of rain forest trees sprout leaves in the welcomed light. Since many varieties of nuts and fruits grow in the canopy layer. The
animals that feast on them make their homes here too. The slow-moving sloth is one famous canopy dweller. The lovely vanilla orchid, from which vanilla is extracted, blooms in the canopy.

Understory: Small trees that rarely grow beyond 15 feet in height, and a shorter layer of very young canopy trees, shrubs, ferns, and palms, can be found in the understory. Beneath them are still smaller bushes, ferns, and woody vines. Because of the lack of sunlight, few flowers bloom in this layer. The layer is often hot and humid because the heat and moisture of the forest are trapped beneath the canopy. Spider monkeys swing from the vines and the blue morpho butterfly flits and flutters in the understory.

Forest Floor: Although mosses, herbs, fungi, seedlings, ferns, and bromeliads grow on the forest floor, the vegetation is sparse – mainly because of the lack of sunlight. High temperatures and humidity make decomposition exceedingly rapid. Anteaters, scorpions, and variety of insects roam the forest floor.

2. Make a rain forest mural including the rain forest layers.

3. Rain forest Products – Show students a variety of products tht come from the rain forests, such as a chocolate bar, a rubber band, a lemon, a tea bag, a stick of chewing gum, a brazil nut, and a cinnamon stick. Ask your class to guess what all the objects have in common. Tell students that all the objects are products that come from the rain forest. You may want to display some of the items around you rain forest mural. Discuss other rain forest products, such as tropical woods, medicines, and exotic plants and pets. Remind students that rain forests are home to more than half the species of plants and animals on earth.

4. Rain Forest Snacks
Rain Forest Mix – Mix together in a large container 2 cups each of peanuts, chocolate chips, cashew nuts, banana chips, dried papaya, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and coconut flakes. Forest Punch – Mix together in a punch bowl 2 cups of orange juice, lemon-lime juice, and pineapple juice.

Jungle Juice – Equipment needed: juice squeezer, teaspoons, measuring cups, bowls, spoons, blender, cups,m and straws. Ingredients (per child): 1/2 lemon , 3 whole strawberries, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 2 ice cubes. Step 1: Squeeze 1/2 lemon and pour juice into a cup. Step 2: Add 2 teaspoons sugar and stir. Step 3: Add 1/3 cup water and stir. Step 4: Pour lemon, water, and sugar mixture into the blender. Add 3 strawberries and 2 ice cubes, and blend until the ice is
melted. Pour into cup; add a straw. Sip and enjoy. (This would work well if set up in stations for children to move from one table to the next.)

5. Spice it up – for each student you will need a cotton ball and an empty film canister with a snap-on lid. Choose five spices and/or flavorings that originated in the rain forests. (These include
allspice, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and paprika.) Divide the cotton balls into five groups; then sprinkle or dab each group of cotton
balls with a different spice or flavoring. Place the scented balls into the cannisters and quickly snap the lids in place. Discreetly mark the bottom of each canister to indicate which scent is stored
inside. Distribute one canister to each child. Explain that the canisters contain the fragrances of five different spices and/or flavorings that originate in rain forests. explain that the object of the game is to find other children in the room who have the same fragrance in their canisters. Have the students suggest how they could go about doing this. Then, on your signal, let the fun begin. Once the groups are formed and verified, ask each group to guess the source of its rain forest fragrance.

6. Recycled Rain – Students may be surprised to discover that rain forests help create their own wet climates. This process, call transpiration, is made posible by a lush plant population. The rain
that falls on the ground in the rain forest is quickly sucked up by the trees’ roots. Trees use some of the rainwater to help them grow. But they put almost half of the water back into the air through tiny
openings. You can show this by taking a house plant: Cover some or all of the leaves with a clear, dry plastic bag. Use a rubber band, a twist-tie, or tape to keep the bag tightly closed. Wait several
days. Soon you’ll see water droplets inside the bag. Point out that you have simulated a water cycle in the bag. And with transpiration constantly going on in every leaf in the rain forest, is it any wonder that the rain forest gives off enough water to affect the weather all around the world. Worksheet – See What Transpires. 7. Animal Classification – Reproduce for each student the page titled “Rain Forest Animals.” Direct the students to color and cut out the animals. Then guide the students to create an animal classification web. Instruct the students to arrange the animals into four
categories – mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects – on a large sheet of paper. Next have the students paste the animals on the paper. Next have the students paste the animals on the paper. Finally, have the students draw lines and add headings to create the web.

8. Discuss the importance of the rain forest and list reasons why it should be saved.

10 reasons to save the rain forests
1. Half of all the different kinds of plants and animals we know about in the world live in the rain forests.
2. There are plants and animals living in the rain forest that scientists still have not discovered or studied.
3. Many medicines are made from rain forest plants. New cures may come from plants that haven’t yet been discovered.
4. Seeds from rain forest trees can be used to start new forests in other places where they have been destroyed.
5. Many people live and work in the rain forests, they have their own ways of life.
6. Many products we use come from rain forests, such as pineapples, rubber, chocolate, cinnamon, and nuts.
7. Many species of North American birds spend the winter in tropical rain forests.
8. Rain forests provide water to nearby villages for drinking and farming.
9. Destroying the rain forests may change the climate all over the world.
10. All living things on the planet are related. destroying the rain forest plants and animals will affect the other inhabitants of the Earth.
9. Compare environments rain forest to Little Rock. (trees, birds, animals, foods and plants.
10. Find pictures in magazines of products that come form the rain forest and make and poster.
11. Find the rain forests on a map or a globe. Use worksheet – Mapping the Rain Forest and Tropical Rain Forests of the World.
12. Worksheet Worth Saving and Tropical Rain Forests of the World.
13. Products Related to the rain Forest word find.
14. Worksheet Who Am I?
15. Worksheet Layers of Life

1. Make different rain forest animals. Patterns included.
2. Make a story mobile with characters from the story.
3. Sing “Rain Forest Rhapsody” to the tune of “Oh Where, Oh Where.”
4. A Game from the Africa Rain Forest called Snake (Da Ga). Mark off an area about 10 feet square (the Home of the Snake), and choose a student to be the Snake. The Snake starts out from Home to catch another player by tagging him or her. When that person is caught, the two must hold hands and go on catching people, using their two free hands. In this way the Snake gradually gets longer and longer. Whenever the Snake breaks, it must return Home and a new Snake starts out to catch its victims. The game ends when all the players are caught and become part of a Snake. The last one caught is the winner.
5. Cut-Paper Rain Forest – Have students make mini rain forest mural on a piece of construction paper.
6. Sing a song of Planet Earth
7. Sing Rain Forest
8. Play guessing game

1. Folk Tale from Brazil – The Clever Turtle
2. India Tale – The Monkey and The Crocodile
3. Summary Tree – Summarizing is an important critical-thinking skill.
Use these steps to guide your students in summarizing the Great Kapok Tree.
1. Explain that summarizing is a short way to present information from a story.
2. Draw on the board a tree shaped chart. Ask the students the questions listed. What are the man’s goals? What changes the man’s goals? How does the man act at the end of the story? Why?
3. Have the students use the chart to retell the story. Or direct the students to use the information on the chart to write a paragraph summarizing the story. Or do this as a class.
4. Rain Forest Animals
focus on the author’s use of descriptive verbs to describe the actions of the animals. With your students, make a chart listing each animal’s name and the corresponding action. Discuss how the verbs chosen help to create word pictures and add to the interest of the story.
Animal Action
boa constrictor slihered
monkeys scampered

Vocabulary List
afar among banks burst canopy creature crept dwell fellows fluttered foraging foreboding fury heard machine message perches plenty powerful rumblings scent screech sensed shadows shudder sinister spoiling strange swirling tale terrible threatening trooped undergrowth warning whether wondered worried

Word Bank
howler monkey spider monkey chimpanzee orangutans lemurs golden lion tamarin kinkajou coatimundi gorillas toucan macaw hummingbird harpy eagle three toed sloth tapir anteater caiman tree porcupine anaconda emerald tree boa viper iguana crocodile tree frog poison dart frog army ants crab spider wood turtle fruit bat armadillo basilisk lizard Amazonian Katydid Bengal tiger jaguar leopard brocket deer Blue morpho butterfly Praying mantis postage stamp butterfly Bromelaid plant (Mother-in-laws tongue) passion flower hibiscus coral bean pitcher plant orchid casava plant african violet christmas cactus periwinkle ferns begonia fig