Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans

Rain Forest Rally
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


Student Prerequisites:
Students should be aware of the general locations of tropical and temperate rain forests. A general knowledge of rain forest environmental issues and characteristics of a rain forest would be helpful.

  • Dried beans of 4 different colors (all the same size).
  • 16 film canisters.
  • 32 cotton balls.
  • Extracts or samples of:
    • orange
    • lemon
    • lime
    • banana
    • tea
    • cloves
    • nutmeg
    • allspice
    • cinnamon
    • ginger
    • vanilla
    • turmeric
    • peanuts
    • coffee
    • coconut
    • chocolate
  • Paper cups.
  • Plastic spoons (one for every fourth student).
  • Plastic forks (one for every fourth student).
  • Plastic knives (one for every fourth student).
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • Science in the Rain Forest: Rain Forest Layers

    This site has an excellent description of the three layers of the rain forest.

  • Science in the Rain Forest: Rain Forest Facts

    This site has a good description of rain forest plants.

  • Science in the Rain Forest: 66 Rain Forest Facts

    This site gives 66 facts about rain forests.

  • Science in the Rain Forest: Take a Walk in the Rain Forest

    Visitors to this site can take a self-guided tour of a rain forest in Costa Rica.

  • An Amazon Adventure

    This ThinkQuest site gives an excellent tour of the Amazon rain forest.


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately 5-7 class periods.

  • To help students understand the world-wide value of tropical rain forests, explain the following reasons to protect them:

    - Loss of rain forests causes soil erosion and water pollution.

    - Migratory birds from North America migrate to the tropics in the winter.

    - Rain forest species could someday provide new products, such as a treatment for cancer.

    - Destruction of the rain forests could alter world weather patterns because of their effect on the water cycle.

    - Burning the rain forest emits carbon into the atmosphere and adds to effects of global warming.

    - Rain forests are home to thousands of species that could become extinct.

    Have students explore Science in the Rain Forest: 66 Rain Forest Facts. They should add their own topics to the class discussion about why we need to protect the rain forests.

  • Discuss with students common products that come from rain forests. Distribute the Rain Forest Products Worksheet, in Organizers for Students, and use it as the basis of your discussion.

  • To demonstrate how important rain forests are in our daily lives, do the following "Smells of the Rain Forest" activity:

    Number your film canisters. Place each of the rain forest products listed in the Materials section in a separate canister. (Place a cotton ball in each and add several drops of extract, a pinch of spice, or a piece of food. Cover with another cotton ball and close the canister.)

    Divide the class into groups and have them rotate the canisters until everyone has smelled each of the products. Make sure they don't see what they are smelling. Have the students record what they think each canister contains on the Data Sheet, in Organizers for Students.

    Discuss the correct answers.

  • Tropical rain forests are inhabited by animals that have many adaptations to protect them from predators; adaptations include camouflage and mimicry. The following activity demonstrates how special adaptations of predators and prey can affect the survival of each.

    Scatter an equal number of each color bean in a grassy area. The students will be the predators. The beans are the prey; the different colors represent a species with unique adapted characteristics. Give each student a cup. Divide the students into four equal groups and assign each group a special "mouth part" adaptation. One group gets plastic spoons, one gets plastic knives, one gets plastic forks, and one group uses its fingers to scoop up the beans. Have the students hunt their prey for a few minutes using only their "mouth parts."

    Bring the students inside and have each predator group separate the captured prey by color (species). Make a data chart of the class's results. Record how many of each species were captured by each predator group. Discuss the implications of the results.

  • Distribute the Student Pathway, in Organizers for Students. Students should use these sites to conduct Web research about rain forest ecology and structure. Students should use their research to draw their own Rain Forest. They should be sure to include and label each of the three layers of a rain forest.


    Language Arts: Have students write a story explaining how an animal of the rain forest came to have a certain characteristic.

    Environmental Science: In the news, students often hear about the greenhouse effect. Have students research this topic and find out what it is and its effects on the earth.


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. Lead the group working at the computer through an Internet search or allow the students in the class to take turns. (Always have a set of bookmarks ready for the students before they start working on the computer, in order to show them examples of what to look for.) When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked sites.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students