Teaching Materials for Elementary Level
- Turn your classroom into a rainforest (have students draw and cut out plants and animals to hang around the classroom)
- Making terrariums out of plastic bottles
- Have students draw their favorite rainforest animals in their natural habitat and hang the drawings around the room
- Print and distribute Rainforest Foundation’s word puzzles and in-class activities
- Use key words to create a quiz on rainforest terms
- Have students pick their favorite rainforest animal. Have them write a journal entry as if they were that animal living in the rainforest for a day. What makes this animal well suited to live in the rainforest (speed, agility, claws, teeth, beak etc.)?
- Write letters to government officials or company leaders that exploit rainforest resources, asking them to stop deforestation in the rainforest or use sustainable natural resources.
- Assign a rainforest book report
Incorporating rainforest-related content into your curriculum can also inspire kids to take action. One of our superstar student volunteers, Josalyn, credits her first grade unit on rainforests as the impetus for her rainforest passion and activism. Each year Josalyn’s first grade teacher, Mrs. Miller, does an integrated study with her class on rainforests. Mrs. Miller turns her first grade classroom into a jungle, with homemade vines and stuffed jungle animals. Each child in the class picks a rainforest animal to research and to do a report about. Through this process the students learn about the importance of the rainforest as well as causes of its’ destruction. Through this integrated study Josalyn became passionate about protecting the rainforest and went on to hold a series of lemonade stands over the past 6 years to raise money for rainforest protection. So far Josalyn has raised over $10,000 to help save the rainforest!
Rainforest Facts to Incorporate into Your Classroom Activities
Why is it called a rainforest?
Because of the high level of precipitation, or rain, these forests receive per year. To be considered a rainforest there must be an annual precipitation of at least 80 inches.
What kind of rainforests are there and how are they different?
There are two types of rainforests: tropical and temperate. Tropical rainforests receive a higher average rainfall; some rainforests may receive up to 400 inches of precipitation per year. The average rainfall, however, is 160 inches. Tropical rainforests are very common close to the equator (0 degrees longitude). Temperate rainforests are quite rare and are mostly found near coastal, temperate regions, further away from the equator(such as in the Northeastern US, Northwestern US, Chile, Norway, New Zealand, etc.). Temperate rainforest receive an average of roughly 100 inches per year and are generally cool with seasonal fluctuations.
What is the equator?
The equator is an imaginary line that divides the earth’s northern and southern hemisphere. It is located at zero degrees latitude.
Where are rainforests found? Rainforests are all over the world, from North and South America, to Africa, Europe, Asia and even Australia.Tropical rainforests are located on a belt along the equator, almost always less than 23.5 degrees north or south of this imaginary line. 23.5 north of the equator is a line called “the Tropic of Cancer”, and the same distance south of the equator is labeled “Tropic of Capricorn”.Temperate rainforests are located between 25 and 50 degrees latitude, mostly in coastal areas.[educators can incorporate a lesson on longitude and latitude here, or quiz students on rainforest geography] How old are the rainforests? Tropical rainforests began developing roughly 200 million years ago. Temperate rainforests are relatively new, evolving roughly 40 million years ago.
Which animals live in the Amazon?
More than half of the world’s plant and animal, and insect species live in tropical rainforests. Animals like the Macau, Jaguar, Panther, capybara, and Amazon River Dolphin, along with 40,000 plant species, 3,000 freshwater fish species, and more than 370 types of reptiles all inhabit the Amazon rainforests.
There are thousands of species of insects, plants and animals which we still haven’t discovered. Many of these species are endangered due to loss of habitat, hunting, and poaching.
- An area of rainforest the size of a football field disappears every second
- The trees of a tropical rainforest are so densely packed that rain falling on the canopy can take as long as 10 minutes to reach the ground.
- Only 2% of sunlight reaches the forest floor. 80% of the sunlight is absorbed by the forest canopy.
- 1.2 billion people rely on rainforests for their needs and livelihoods.
- At least 50 million indigenous people around the world live in and depend on rainforests
- Tropical rainforests only cover about 7% of the planet’s land area, and just 2% of the earth’s surface, but they are home to 50% of all living things.
- 80% of all insects live in rainforests
- Common facts, quizzes, why rainforests are important: http://kids.mongabay.com/
- About the world’s various rainforests: http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/rainforests/rainforests.html