Appendix F: Extension Activities
Use Independent Studies
Harness students’ interests in animals and habitats. Have students apply their knowledge of the needs of rainforest animals to animals in habitats of their interest, like the desert of the American Southwest or the tide pools of the New England coast. Provide resources online and in print for students to use for their independent study. Students can proceed through the engineering design process to design a habitat for the animal of their choice.
Students can identify how their animal meets the need for food, water and shelter, and how their physical characteristics are suited for the habitats in which they live.
Allow Multiple Options for Assignments
After the "What Is a Rainforest?" activity, students may decorate the classroom in a rainforest theme. They can create the four layers of the rainforest—overstory, canopy, understory and forest floor—on the walls of the classroom at different heights. They may attach pictures of rainforest animals at different levels to indicate where they live within the rainforest. Students can also cut leaves to scale using green paper. This will help students understand how large some of these leaves are, particularly in the understory, where light is scarce.
After the "Food in the Rainforest" activity, students may explore how an animal's physical adaptations can help it to get the food it needs to survive. The following activity in the PBS KIDS program "FETCH!" contains directions for a hands-on activity in which children compare how differently shaped bird beaks are suitable for eating different kinds of foods.
> Eat Like a Bird
(from PBS Parents)
After the "Deforestation" and "Preservation" activities, students may create a public service announcement (PSA) that calls attention to the problem of habitat loss in the rainforest.
Student PSAs may take the form of a video or audio recording. Start by explaining to students that a public service announcement is a message that educates people about an important issue. Show an example of a PSA made by elementary students . Then, help your students develop a short message that will summarize the problem of deforestation and what people can do to help. Consider publishing the video to share with the school community.
Create an Infographic
Another way for students to call attention to the problem of habitat loss is through the creation of an infographic. Show students examples of simple infographics . Explain that infographics use pictures to help explain mathematical information.
Play the Amazon Rainforest deforestation video segment from :45 to 1:03. Ask students if they can explain why the narrator mentioned a football field when describing deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest. Explain that “rate” is the speed at which something changes. (In this instance it is the rate at which the deforestation is changing the rainforest.) Challenge students to explain this rate of change through their drawings in an infographic.
Students will naturally differentiate this math activity. While some students may draw a football field with limited text, some students may calculate the rate of deforestation over time (minute or hour) through their drawings. Encourage students who do not have their own strategy for calculations to use tally marks and ten frames.
- Create an infographic on the rate of deforestation.
- Measure the rainfall at your school for a month. Compare your school’s rainfall to that of the Amazon Rainforest. Alternatively use EduWeb’s Amazon Rainforest interactive to compare how many feet of rain falls in your part of the United States compared to the Amazon Rainforest.
- Where is the closest rainforest? Compare the distance from your town to rainforests around the world.