When we think of a rainforest, our minds often picture the Amazon rainforest with lush, green trees reaching tall into the canopy and colourful wildlife. In addition to the tropical rainforests of South America, central Africa and southeastern Asia, rainforests exist in temperate climates as well. Temperate rainforests grow along the west coast of the United States and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a few European counties. If you can't take your preschoolers to the rainforest, bring the rainforest into your classroom.
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Fill your classroom library with rain forest-themed books such as "Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme" by Marianne Berkes; "Who Lives in the Rainforest?" by Nora Pelizzari; and "Rainforest Romp" by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. Have preschoolers select a book for you to read aloud every day. Write rain forest-themed poems and songs on pieces of chart paper. Suggestions include "Itsy Bitsy Monkey," "I'm a Little Monkey" and "Boa Song." Teach students the songs, then sing and dance around the room, acting out each song.
Have preschoolers help fill a terrarium with a layer of pea-sized gravel and charcoal. Top with a layer of potting soil. Plant a few plants in your rainforest terrarium, such as spider plants, flowers or other tropical plants. Add water and place a piece of glass or plastic acrylic over the top of the terrarium. Place it in a sunny window and watch your rainforest grow. Invite preschoolers to make mini rainforests the same way, using 2-liter bottles. Cut the bottles in half to make it easier to add gravel, charcoal, soil and plants. Then tape the top part of the bottle back in place.
Provide rain sticks, drums, rhythm sticks and other musical instruments in a music area. Invite preschoolers to try out the sounds they can make with each instrument. Encourage preschoolers to sing rainforest songs while playing the drums, rhythm sticks or turning over the rain sticks. Have preschoolers use the instruments while pretending to be boas slithering along the tree branches, monkeys swinging from tree to tree or crocodiles snapping at their prey.
Invite preschoolers to paint a rainforest scene on a wall covered in butcher paper. Provide paints, paint brushes, sponges and other fun painting supplies such as toothbrushes and rags. Show preschoolers how to use the rags and sponges to stamp a river flowing along the rainforest floor. Have preschoolers paint large trees that reach high into the air. Let preschoolers use paintbrushes or their fingers to create green vines that wrap around tall trees. Encourage preschoolers to paint leopards, birds, snakes and all kinds of creatures in their rainforest.
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