Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


Improving Math & Science Learning:
Rain Forest Adventures

Rain Forest Adventures

Grades:  3-5
Teacher:  Alice Hom
Location:  P.S. 6


Lesson 1 - Where Are the Rain Forests?

Objective: Identify and describe where tropical rain forests are located and learn the geographical correlation between rainfall and rain forest.


equator, continent, climate, tropical, humidity


Wall Map

unlabeled world maps - 1 per child (see samples)

markers or pencil crayons

chart tablet paper

Post-it arrows



1.  Students will brainstorm what they think they know about tropical rain forests - where they're located, characteristics of these environments (see FYI- Teacher Sheet).  These will be listed on chart paper and hung in the room for future reference.  

2.  Students will look at large wall map and identify location of continents, oceans, the equator, and the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.  They will learn about the areas with at least 80 inches of rain fall, and a year-round average temperature of 80 degrees with 83% humidity.  Post-it arrows will be used to mark where rain forests are located.  

3.  On their own unlabeled world map, students will color in and label the areas where rain forests are located.


Follow-up activities:

1.  Research average rain fall in specific places where rain forests are located and create a bar graph. 

2.  Using data on monthly average temperatures in the rain forest, students will create a line graph. 


 Lesson 2 - Layers of the Rain Forest


Objectives:  Students will learn about the four layers of a rain forest,  the types of vegetation found in each area, and identify animals found in each layer.



Wonders of the Rain Forest  by Janet Craig

non-fiction books

Grolier's CD-ROM

Internet sites:         




lined index cards - 4 x 6

Inspiration CD-ROM

Poster board, markers



1.  Read chapter from Wonders of the Rain Forest  identifying and describing the layers of the rain forest: emergent, canopy , understory, and forest floor (see FYI - Teacher Sheet).

2.  Divide students into small groups and assign each a layer of the rain forest to research.  Using materials and resources in the classroom, computer room and the library, students will gather information on the kinds of plants and animals found in their specific layer and make notes on index cards.    

 3.  Students will organize and present information in one of the following ways:      

a. Inspiration - Webbing or Diagramming

b. Poster board presentation


Follow-up Activity:

Class will create a mural or bulletin board depicting the layers of the rain forest and place labels or pictures of plants and animals in the layer where they can live and grow.

Lesson 3- Camouflage:  How & Why Creatures Blend into their Environment


Objective:  Students will explore how an animal's coloration and patterns aid in survival in its environment.


Looking for Henry  by Elaine Livermore

photos of camouflaged animals

shoe boxes


scrap materials (cloth, yarn, buttons, etc.)




camouflage, coloration, patterns, horizontal, vertical



1.  Photos of animals that are well-camouflaged in their environment are shown to introduce the concept of camouflage.  Students identify the animals.

2.  Read Looking for Henry.

3.  Discuss patterns and colorations.

4.  Students work in small groups to create their own creature that will blend into their own unique environment using the above materials.

5.  Students will write a paragraph which names the creature they created, describe its environment, and tell what kind of food it eats.


Follow-up Activity:

Students will look at photos/pictures/videos of rain forest animals and describe the ways their patterns or coloration help them blend in with their environment.


Lesson 4:  Tropical Rain Forest Terrarium


Objective:  Students will create a simulated rain forest environment and record observations about plant growth and transpiration.


2 liter soda bottles - 1 per group of four students

plastic wrap

small pebbles or gravel

crushed charcoal

humus-rich soil or potting soil

lima bean seeds or small tropical plants like African violets


masking tape

water, air, sunlight




1.  Rinse soda bottles.  Cut soda bottle most of the way, but not completely, around at the top where the bottle begins to curve.

2.  Fold plastic wrap and line bottom of bottle.

3.  Make rain forest soil:  1) 4 cm. of pebbles or gravel, 2) 4 cm. of charcoal, 3) 4 cm. of soil layered on top of each other.

4.  Place seeds 4 lima bean seeds or plants on soil and cover (roots) with moss and more soil.

5.  Tape bottle together where you cut it in step 1.

6.  Water your terrarium enough to moisten, but not soak, the soil.

7.  Place in soil and observe daily.  The first few days, you may need to add water to the terrariums.  Once the seeds or plants begin to grow, this will no longer be necessary.  Due to transpiration, the moisture will rise to the top of the bottle and rain down on the plants.  

8. In science journals, students will summarize steps to creating their terrariums.  They will describe conditions necessary for the seeds/plants to grow.  Predictions will be made on how tall the the plants might grow.


Follow-up Activity:

Students can create science journals to record daily observations and growth of plants over the course of 1-2 months.   Questions to guide students might include the following:

- How do plants get air inside the terrarium?  (Air is recycled via plant respiration.  Plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen during the day.  At night, plants turn oxygen back into carbon dioxide.)

- How is water recycled in the rain forest?  (Plants absorb water from the soil up to their leaves.  Leaves release the water into the air as vapor.  In the closed terrarium, water vapor turns into  water droplets.  This water trickles back into the soil and will be used over and over again.

- Explain evaporation, transpiration, and condensation in relation to the rain forest environment.

- What can disrupt this ecosystem?


 Lesson 5:  Products from the Rain Forest


Objective:  Students will learn about everyday products that have their origins in tropical rain forests.  They will discuss the benefits of certain products and the need to protect these environments in order to harvest and use the resources in a sustainable manner.



Brazil nuts

article made of mahogany or bamboo

coffee beans

can of insect repellant


chewing gum

rubber gloves  

worksheet - Rain Forest Products



1.  Ask students if they can think of items which may have come from the rain forest.  Show samples of products in the classroom or brought from home.

2.  Give each child a copy of the Rain Forest Products worksheet.  Have them list five that are most important and in pairs, explain why they chose those items.

3.  Have students take their list home and work with parent(s) to check off items they can find in their homes.  Children should be prepared to share their checklists and to discuss the importance of rain forests in their daily lives.


Follow-up Activities:

1.  Have a showcase of products from the rain forest and group into categories.

2.  Invite a pharmacist or doctor to talk about medicines made from plants originating in the rain forests.


Lessons 6 - 10:  Rain Forests - African Congo & South America


Objective:  Students will research a plant or animal from the rain forest and identify its physical location within the rain forest.  They will contribute to a group or whole class project about the organisms in the rain forest and make oral and multimedia presentations.   


chart paper          

colored yarns


poster board

non-fiction books, reference materials, and science magazines

Grolier's CD-ROM

4 X 6 index cards


HyperStudio , KidPix or ClarisWorks 

Internet sites -         






1.  Class will be divided into two groups, one to research the African Congo rain forest and the other to research a South American rain forest.  Within each group, half will make a list of animals and the other half will make a list of plants found in their specific region.  These will be written up on chart paper.


Possible Organisms for Research:

  • Plants:  fern, Brazil nut, cecropia, strangler fig, palm trees, cocoa,  orchid, bromeliad, passion flower, cashew, manioc, yucca, heliconia,  mahogany, rubber fungus                 

  • Animals:  black rhinoceros, gorilla, colobus monkey, golden cat,          butterfly, gray heron, African emerald cuckoo, green mamba, okapi, mandrill, anaconda, jaguar, puma, tarantula, toucan, sloth, macaw, coatamundi, saiman, boa constrictor.


2.  Students will select or be assigned an organism from the list to be researched.  Index cards will be used to record their information. 

3.  Students will cooperatively present their research in one of the following ways:

  • HyperStudio, KidPix or ClarisWorks slideshow presentations - one showing information on animals and plants in the African Congo and another on those found in a South American rain forest.

  • Creating a Web or Diagram (using Inspiration) of the two different environments with their plants and animals.

  • Bulletin board/poster board showing food chains.  Colored yarn may be used to connect organisms to one another to illustrate the concepts of food web, symbiosis, competition for resources, or predator-prey relationships.


Follow-up Activities:

1.  Students create their own test questions to share with class.   (See sample list of possible questions)

2.  Rain forest Jeopardy Game.

3.  Visits to Bronx Zoo's African Congo Gorilla Forest and the Central Park's South American rain forest exhibits.  Compare and contrast the two kinds of environments.


Beautiful Birds of the P.S. 6 Rainforest


Jaguars, geckos, and snakes . . . oh my!  A walk through the P.S. 6 Rainforest

P.S. 6 Rainforest Mural created by 3rd grade students in art class




Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before