Did you know that rainforests cover only 6% of the Earth’s surface but are home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species? The rainforest biome is an important part of the Earth’s ecosystem, providing oxygen, regulating the climate, and supporting many, many species of plants and animals. Teaching children about the rainforest biome can be an excellent way to introduce them to important concepts such as biodiversity, conservation, and ecology, as well as the importance of protecting this unique and fragile ecosystem.
In this blog post, we’ve collected resources for a unit study on this biome. Check out the ideas below!
About the Rainforest Biome
A biome is a large geographical area that is defined by its distinctive climate, vegetation, and animal life. There are several different types of biomes around the world – such as grassland, wetland, and temperate forest – each with its own unique features and characteristics.
The rainforest biome is a lush, tropical environment that is home to millions of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth. Rainforests are found in regions with warm temperatures and high rainfall, and can be found in South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
The rainforest biome contains four layers: the emergent layer, the canopy layer, the understory layer, and the forest floor. Each layer is home to different plants and animals, and plays a crucial role in the overall ecosystem of the rainforest.
- The emergent layer is the top layer of the rainforest, consisting of the tallest trees that reach up to 200 feet in height. Animals found in this layer include eagles, monkeys, and bats.
- Moving down, the canopy layer is the second layer, consisting of the upper branches and leaves of the trees. This layer is home to many different species of birds, insects, amphibians, and mammals such as sloths.
- The understory layer is the third layer, consisting of the lower branches and leaves of the trees. This layer is home to many different species of reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
- Finally, the forest floor is the bottom layer, consisting of the ground and the fallen leaves and branches from the upper layers. This layer is home to many different species of mammals, such as jaguars and tapirs, as well as smaller animals such as rodents and insects.
Here is a fun song to sing with your students about the layers of the rainforest!
Fun Rainforest Biome Facts for Kids
- Some rainforest plants can grow to be 200 feet tall, such as the giant kapok tree.
- In the rainforest, trees can grow so close together that their branches can become intertwined, creating a natural bridge system known as a “canopy walkway.”
- The rainforest is one of the world’s most important sources of medicine. Over 25% of modern medicines originate from rainforest plants.
- Rainforests are so important to the Earth’s ecosystem that they are often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth.”
- If the Amazon Rainforest were a country, it would be the ninth biggest country in the world.
- The world’s largest rodent lives in the rainforest – the capybara, which can weigh up to 140 pounds.
- Some of the smallest mammals in the world live in the rainforest, such as the pygmy marmoset. This tiny creature is the size of a human thumb!
- The rainforest is home to world’s largest snake, the anaconda, which can grow to 30 feet long.
- The rainforest is home to the world’s largest flower, the rafflesia, which can grow to be three feet in diameter. (By the way – unlike most flowers that smell sweet when in bloom, a blooming rafflesia flower is extremely stinky. This stinky smell attracts insects that help pollinate the plant.)
- Since 1998, human activity has destroyed an alarming 10,000 acres of rainforest each day. That’s equivalent to more than 15 square miles a day, or a little more than 92,000 NBA basketball courts daily.
Books and Materials about the Rainforest
- Layers of the Rainforest Puzzle by Mirus Toys
- Tropical Frogs Memory Game from Montessori Services
- Rainforest Children’s Book by National Geographic (with lots of beautiful full-color photographs)
- The Great Kapok Tree Book by Lynne Cherry (plus a related STEAM activity from Preschool STEAM)
The Rainforest Biome: Curriculum Resources
- Rainforest Mini Unit Great for your older primary students; includes nonfiction reading activities, writing prompts, cooperative games and activities, and more.
- Rainforest Phonological Awareness Pack This set includes rhyming riddles, I-spy games, sequencing activities, syllables, and more activities to practice early literacy skills.
- Rainforest Preschool Pack Use these 10 activities to work on some essential preschool skills during your Rainforest unit.
- Rainforest Animals 3-Part Cards 20 different animals, plus blank outlines so students can make their own booklets
Printables about the Rainforest Biome
- Free Printable Amazon Rainforest Mini-Book from Multicultural Kid
- African Rainforest Food Web Resource from the Tulsa Zoo (this free printable activity is designed for older children but could easily be simplified for a primary class by demonstrating one food chain at a time)
- For supplemental materials that focus on living things commonly found in the rainforest, check out the Parts of a Leaf, Parts of a Tree, Butterfly Life Cycle, and Ant Life Cycle printables in the Trillium Resource Library.
Rainforest-Inspired Crafts and Activities
- Did you know many popular fruits come from the rainforest? Try a “rainforest fruit taste test” with your class (after checking for food allergies). Offer small samples of mango, banana, papaya, pineapple. Then, create a simple chart to see which fruit was most liked by your class. Children can put small post it notes, write their name, or add a dot with a dot marker under the fruit(s) they liked.
- Another fun food activity: try this Rainforest Cookies Recipe from Artful Parent (Please note: this recipe is not allergy-friendly. However, it could easily be modified to meet the dietary needs of your group.)
- How do Leaves “Breathe”? Science Experiment from Edventures with Kids
- Blue Morpho Butterfly Craft from Kid World Citizen
- This Rainforest Unit Study from the Rainforest Alliance includes six interactive activities to help your students learn about the rainforest.