Children enjoy classroom themes because they give the classroom a magical aura where learning is an adventure. Jungle themes particularly excite children's imaginations, and there are many things you can do to turn your room into a virtual jungle. A jungle theme is a handy theme to teach children about ecosystems and wildlife, and you'll find that kids are capable of learning a wide range of related vocabulary.
Many children work very well when background music is playing. Choose jungle-themed music without words, such as gentle tribal beats. Use more boisterous jungle songs when the class is in transition. Try "Colonel Hathi's March" for times when the children are lining up to change classes or go to lunch. For cleaning up or getting ready for group work, play a snippet of "That's What Friends Are For." You can find both of these songs on "The Jungle Book" soundtrack.
If you teach preschool or kindergarten, carry over your jungle theme into the snacks you serve. Serve animal crackers and discuss which of the animals live in the jungle. Children will be sure to enjoy "ants on a log," a treat made by filling a celery stick with cream cheese or peanut butter and topping with raisins.
A classroom with a jungle theme should have plenty of plants, both real and crafted. Use bulletin board paper to create trees on the classroom walls that reach to the ceiling. Let your students help you with the decorations by enlisting them to help you cut leaves to attach to the trees. Make this activity even more of a learning experience by writing vocabulary words---jungle related or not---to the leaves. Make vines by twisting long pieces of brown bulletin board paper together, and attach them to the wall around the trees. Hang small bird pinatas from the ceiling.
Prepare a bulletin board that states "Jungle VIP," along with paper cut-outs of trees and jungle animals. Use twine to form vines on the bulletin board. Familiarise children with what a "jungle VIP" is by playing them the clip from "The Jungle Book" that features the song "I Wan'na Be Like You." Take photos of the children using a digital camera and print them out on an 8-1/2-inch-by-11-inch sheet of paper. Rotate the photos on the bulletin board, making sure that every child has the opportunity to be the "Jungle VIP." You may choose to give the Jungle VIP special classroom privileges as well, just to add to the fun.
The classroom pet doesn't have to be a real animal and shouldn't be, as most jungle animals are not indigenous to the United States. Purchase a stuffed monkey and let the children give him a name. Use the "pet" as a reward---children who have done something exceptional get to let the monkey sit on their desk. Be careful not to use an inaccurate animal for your pet or when preparing decorations. For example, National Geographic states that a lion's territory consists of "grasslands, scrub or open woodlands," not the jungle, which is a common misconception.
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