Rainforests have diverse ecosystems and are extremely important to the earth. Plants of the rainforest are used in many different ways, including fighting illness and disease, and the animals are the most diverse of any other biome. There are many things teachers can do to help students understand the vastness and value of rainforests.
Tropical vs. Temperate Rainforests
Provide students with a blank Venn diagram. Have them research tropical and temperate rainforests. Once they have studied the two different ecosystems, have them fill in the Venn diagram to compare/contrast the two ecosystems.
Have students choose a specific animal from the rainforest to research. They should answer the questions: What are the characteristics of the animal? How is it adapted to live in its ecosystem? What human activities have taken place in its ecosystem? How have these human activities affected this animal? Once they have completed their research, they can present it on a poster or in a PowerPoint presentation.
Create and Destroy an Ecosystem
Provide students with a sheet of rainforest plants and animals, and have them select two large carnivores, three small carnivores or omnivores, six herbivores, and three special rainforest plants. Students will create a poster where they draw in the layers of the rainforest and place their animals and plants on the poster. All of the posters in the class will be combined to make a whole rainforest. The teacher will then model deforestation by having a student come in and remove their poster. They will find a place for their animals and plants in the remaining posters. If there is not any "room" for that plant or animal, it will die. Repeat this process a few more times to help students understand how destructive it can be to cut down rainforests.
To teach students about transpiration, condensation, and precipitation, create a mini-rain forest in a bottle. Give each student an empty soda bottle. At the bottom have them place a layer of rocks. Add a layer of potting soil (about two-inches) on top of the rocks Plant a few plant cuttings, covering the roots Water the plants to make the soil moist. Cover one of the plant cuttings with a plastic bag and tie it with a twist tie at the bottom. Place the bottles in a warm, sunlit area and have students make observations after several hours and over the course of a week.
Introduce students to everyday products from the rainforest. Bring into a class a large variety of items for students to observe. Have them create a picture and description of at least 5 of the items and then turn those pictures and descriptions into a brochure advertising the products of the rainforest.
Because the rainforest is full of plants and animals, have students create a poster of the letters of the alphabet, finding an animal or plant to represent each letter. Beside each letter on the poster, they should include a picture of the plant or animal and its name.