Rainforests cover only 2 per cent of the world's surface, but more than 50 per cent of all living creatures live in this complex environment. As deforestation continues to threaten habitats in rainforest regions such as South America, it is important to teach children about their value. There are many types of school projects that can be designed to educate students about rainforests, including those that focus on the foods that come from the forests.
Outline the homework assignment to children. Explain that you are going to learn about what resources come from rainforests and that many such items can be found at home. Ask them to look through their cupboards to find items derived from a rainforest.
Provide a handout with further information about products that come from rainforests, including coffee, chocolate, sugar, soybean products, cashew nuts, Brazil nuts, pineapple and mango.
Assign students to research a product that comes from a rainforest. Tell them to gather some facts about the product and how it is made.
Hold a one-hour session in which students can show and tell fellow students about their rainforest products. Invite students to the front of the class to explain the background of their respective product.
Put a large map on the wall and put asterisks in the areas where each student's product originates.
Provide information about particular rainforests or ecosystems that are affected by the products. For example, create a handout called "Deforestation." Explain at the top of the page that deforestation has increased to allow more space for soy crops. Show images of a healthy forest and then an area of deforestation. Ask the children to list what changes they can see or think of, such as people moving from their homes, fewer native animals, pollution from machinery and vehicles and children working on the site.
Supplement the student presentations with group discussions. Give each group a question, such as, "What effects do removing big areas of trees have on local communities and the world?" or "What does fair trade mean?" or "Are alternative products available instead?" Ask each group to present its ideas to the rest of the class.