Children are usually highly motivated to learn about the rainforest. Many love learning about its unique and often dangerous animals. Other children seem more captivated by the wondrous plants of the rainforest, while still others find the exotic native peoples who live there fascinating. When studying the rainforest, it is fairly easy to integrate the content into reading, writing, science, social studies and art lessons. Math lessons can also be taught using the rainforest as a theme.
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Story Problem Math Book
Have students create a story problem about the rainforest. Primary-aged students can write addition and subtraction problems. For example, if three monkeys climbed into a tree with four monkeys in it, how many monkeys are there in the tree? Intermediate-grade students can write multiplication problems like how many legs do 32 jaguars have? Even older students can write ratio problems. For instance, if only 17 per cent of the 150 butterflies found in a rainforest have been studied, how many is that? Collect the story problems and combine the problems into a book for students to solve.
Draw a Rainforest
Research various animals of the rainforest and the animals' territorial needs. For example, one leopard needs about three square miles of territory while about eight spider monkeys can live in one square mile. Give each student a four-by-four foot piece of poster paper with the charge of drawing a square-mile piece of a rainforest with the appropriate number of animals in it. Primary-grade students can be told how many animals to put in the pictures. Intermediate-aged children can research, then figure out the numbers. Older students can be challenged to use math skills to figure out the specific populations of animals per square mile.
Primary-aged children can practice measuring skills by creating a notice board of the rainforest. Begin by making a backdrop of tree trunks the correct size. Then assign primary-grade students to draw a plant or animal its actual size to add to the notice board. Intermediate-aged children can learn about scale by making the plants and animals at one-half actual size. Even older students can refine this skill by creating a series of posters in groups. Each group can be assigned a different scale to work with.
The rainforest lends itself to all sorts of graphing activities that can be tailored to meet a range of abilities and skills. Primary-aged students can create bar graphs. Their graph might show the class's favourite rainforest animals or the height of various animals. Intermediate-grade students can create line plots of annual rainfall in a particular rainforest by years. Or they can create a pie chart that compares number of mammals to reptiles to birds in a rainforest.
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