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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans

The Tropical Rain Forest 

Project URL: http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ps101/bglasgold/rainforestintro.html 

How it works:

This unit contains a series of lessons to explore the ecosystem of the biome called the rain forest. It begins with an introduction to the rain forest.  Students will brainstorm on a KWL chart what they know about the rain forest, what they want to learn, and finally we will fill in what they have learned at the end of the unit.  Each lesson will include a vast amount of web sites where the students can gather all their information, and look at pictures, which will help explain all the facts and information they will need to learn to complete this unit.  

The first lesson asks for them to describe where tropical rain forests are located, physical descriptions of a rain forest, and some examples of animal and plant life.  All the lessons include vocabulary to go with each lesson, which they will research on-line at various websites.  They will compare the rain forest to other biomes they have studied.  They will learn the layers of the rain forest, and fill-in a database showing the physical characteristics, dominant plant and animal life for each layer.  They will learn what a rain forest food chain, or web of life, is and they will create a food chain for the rain forest. 

Finally, the students will be asked why the rain forest is
important to us and to all life on earth.  In cooperative learning
groups, students will be broken up into four groups.  Each group will research a different aspect of why the rain forest is important- climate, food products, house products, and medicines.  Each group will make a book on their topic and share with the class.  All work will be done on the computer and using the Internet. Activities will include making a rain forest terrarium and creating books, showing how plants transport water from their roots to their leaves, and showing decomposition.  

Standards addressed by this unit:

1.  Students demonstrate understanding of organisms and their
2.  Students demonstrate understanding of change over time.
3.  Students demonstrate understanding of physical positions on Earth.
4.  Students demonstrate understanding of Earth's diversity.
5.  Students write a report of information.
6.  Students will use scientific notation in the writing of experiments.

Materials used:

Students will use various web sites to access information about the
rain forest.  They will use the Tropical Rainforest Interactive CD to
make their own rain forest pictures and stories and learn facts about the rain forest.  They will use various books and magazines to find information,  use word processing programs to create their books and stories, and finally use KidPix to illustrate their stories. 

The students:

The students in this project are in grades 3-5.  They are of average learning ability.  They all have a wonderful interest in studying the rain forest, conducting the experiments, and using our new computers for information and learning.

Overall value:

Creating a book from information gathered from the web sites, and writing them and illustrating them from the new computers and web sites are wonderful ways to excite the children about learning and using the new media.  Many of the science activities mentioned in the lessons give the children first hand experience about the process of life that goes on in the rain forest and all over the world as well.  This unit encompasses many different “multiple intelligences”- such as: verbal-linguistic, intra-personal; spatial (mapping); naturalist, and interpersonal (cooperative learning groups).


Make sure you have examined all the web sites to make sure they are user-friendly for the students.  The web sites I have chosen seem to have been made by children or specifically for children.  Make sure you have all the materials needed for the experiments.  Hands-on activities add so much to the visual information that they will get from their computer screens.


About the teacher:
Bonnie Glasgold is a science enrichment teacher at P.S. 101 in Brooklyn , New York .  She has been teaching for 21 years.  She employs a hands-on approach to the teaching of science.  Since computers were installed in her classroom, technology has now been included in her teaching approach.

Email: bmglas@aol.com

Subject Areas:

Grade Level: 3-5


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