In third grade, students begin their investigation of the habitats of the world, which are divided into water-related environments and dry-land environments (VA Science SOL 3.6). One of the prominent habitats that is covered is the rainforest. The resources provided below cover everything ranging from the climate of the rainforest, to the plants and animals, to what medicines are derived from the rainforest. Another important aspect that is talked about in several of the resources is that of conservation and endangered animals. Several books and websites help students understand why the rainforest is important, what is happening to it, and what we can do to help.
A is For Anaconda By Anthony D. Fredericks; Illustrated by Laura Regan
This book is a great way to introduce students to importance of the rainforest and the different types of life that exist there. Each page is a different letter of the alphabet, which corresponds to a part of the rainforest, ranging from animals and plants to medicines derived from the area. The illustrations, done by Laura Regan, are stunning and give the students a clear picture of scenes in the rainforest. It is also a great resource for talking about endangered animals because biologist Fredericks features several different endangered animals in the book.
The Great Kapok Tree By Lynne Cherry
This is another great book to help students appreciate the significance of the rainforest and recognize why conservation is so important. The story begins with a man who is trying to chop down a huge kapok tree in the rainforest. He falls asleep while he is working, and throughout the course of the day, many different animals, and in the end, a child, visit him and describe to him the consequences of destroying the rainforest habitat. When he awakens and sees all of the animals around him, he puts down his ax and leaves the tree standing. Much like the previous book, this is a great resource for teaching about endangered animals.
Rain, Rain, Rainforest By Brenda Z. Guiberson; Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
In this book, Guiberson takes the students on a journey following different animals through their typical days in the rainforest. The use of onomatopeia and animal sounds characterize the story, along with Jenkins unique collage style of illustration.
The Rainforest Grew All Around By Susan K. Mitchell; Illustrated by Connie McLennan
For teachers who like interactive books and activities, this would be a great choice because it can be used as a sing-along. This song "The Green Grass Grew All Around" is adapted to the rainforest setting and can be read poetically or sung out loud. While the song itself uses very simple terms, there are sidebars on each page that describe in more detail certain animals or plants that are talked about in the song.
Jaguar in the Rainforest by Joanne Ryder; Illustrated by Michael Rothman
Well written and beautifully illustrated, this book takes students into the life of a jaguar, one of the most feared predators in the rainforest. As the jaguar travels around the rain forest, the students learn about the climate, animals and plants that surround him in his habitat.
This website is a great resource for habitats in general (links can be found at the top of the page), but especially for studying the rainforest. Unlike other sites that I have seen, this one introduces the idea of temperate versus tropical rainforests and gives plenty of information on the climate, plants, animals, and life of each.
Although it would take some scaffolding and direction on the teachers part because it is a dense website, this site is a great resource. It is put out by National Geographic and is chock full of beautiful pictures and great information.
Run by a former teacher, this site answers lots of questions about what a rainforest is, why they are disappearing, and why they are an important part of our world. There is also a cute section of the website called "Mongy's Adventures" that follows a little tree frog through the rainforest.
This website is a great resource for very specific information about aspects of the rainforest. It is split into three sections: geosystem, ecosystem, and researchers. Each category is broken down into lots of smaller topics and the information presented is very detailed and complete.
This site is one of few interactive websites that I could find about the rainforest. It is run by PBS and is based on the Amazon. Students can click on different parts of the Amazon to learn about them or can play a game based on a journey into the Amazon.
This list of student activities was put out by the Rainforest Action Network and has some really neat ideas. The ones that caught my eye were the rainforest pen pals and the create your own rainforest in your classroom!
Thinking Fountain created this cute activity to help students learn about the layers of the rainforest and the animals that live there.
Webquests are always a hit with students, and this one is great. It is specifically aimed at third grade and sends them on a journey to broadcast a TV show on the "Rainforest Explorer Network".
If your students need a great visual of the rainforest, this site provides different video clips of animals in the rainforest. They are quick to load and don't require downloading!