The rain forests of our planet are in grave danger. Each day, thousands of acres are being destroyed to make room for crops, roads, buildings, and mining. Other trees are cut down for lumber and other products. The problem is that rain forest habitats take centuries to develop, so those that are cut down are lost to our generation forever. Our rain forests are important because they provide oxygen for the earth, homes for animals, and products like medicines and food. When they are destroyed, the area often becomes a desert and soil erosion becomes a problem. Even global weather systems are affected by rain forest destruction!
Teaching students about the rain forest and why it's important is the first step in bringing about lasting change. Most students don't realize they ways that rain forests in other parts of the world actually impact the entire earth.
One simple activity involves having students research rain forest animals to learn how they are adapted for the tropical environment. Most rain forest animals have specialized features for feeding, transportation, protection, etc. Below you'll find a list of rain forest animals for students to investigate and a graphic organizer for them to use when recording their findings.
One way your students can study about the rain forest is to take part in a Tropical Treasure Hunt which is an Internet search for information. This activity is a sample from my book, Exploring the Tropical Rain Forest. You can download the free printables and directions from my Tropical Treasure Hunt page here on Teaching Resources. This page also includes the student directions to go along with the activity.
Create a Creature is another sample lesson from Exploring the Tropical Rain Forest. In this activity, students in teams invent an animal that is specially adapted to the rain forest environment. They create a tear-art picture of the creature and present it to the class.
The rain forest is a great topic for integrating science and literature. Here are a few of my favorite rain forest books to use with students. Click each book cover to find out more about it and reviews on Amazon.com.
If you like Exploring the Rain Forest, you'll also enjoy my other cooperative learning books published by Kagan! Click each book cover below to find it on Amazon.com.