Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Rainforest Museum for Earth Day!

I've been teaching for twelve years. Unfortunately, I really didn't start documenting and photographing my teaching  until about four years ago. That means there are about eight undocumented years of teaching. And that really stinks, because during that time I remember doing some very awesome stuff with my kids. 

There was the year we collected funds for the World Wildlife Fund, made informative presentations about endangered species, and invited classes from around the school to learn about why we should protect the environment.
A jaguar in its rainforest habitat.
There was the year we made books based on "When I Was Young in the Mountains." Each student wrote a memoir and created a bare book to read to their little first grade buddies.
I don't have one single picture of these events. So please, take pictures of your teaching. You'll wish you had them.
Today, I came across a set of pictures about six years ago that I didn't know I had. They were from our fourth grade museum.

For several years in a row, the fourth grade hosted "Fourth Grade Science Museums" at the end of the school year. We chose a science topic that we had to teach at that time and each section took a different part of it. For example, one year, we divided up the Earth and Space standards among six sections and I got the objects in the sky part. Another year, we divided up the Changes to Earth standards, and I took fast changes - volcanoes and earthquakes.
A lemur, lollygagging in a rainforest tree.


This was the year of the biomes. Each teacher took one biome, and I had the rainforest. We. Had. A. Blast. I took black butcher paper and covered the entire back wall of our room. Each student received colored chalk to create a mural of the rainforest. It was beautiful! Of course, I don't have pictures of that.
Each student chose an animal to research. We used Zoobooks from the classroom, library books, and a multitude of resources online. I provided a list of some great places to get rainforest research below.
The golden lion tamarind, resting against a tree.

After gathering their information, students created a short presentation about their animal. At home, they built a model of the animal including important details about their habitats. 

They each created a book about their animal. I provided each student with a small bare book and we discussed how to create a nonfiction book - we planned out the pages: life cycle, food chain, a description of the animal's habitat and more. Then we added glossaries in the back. I love having students create books! Bare books are the best investment!






The last piece was a powerpoint presentation - each student added one slide about their animals to a class presentation. We projected it and left it on a loop. Classes from across the grade and a few from around the school were invited to come and visit our presentation. We set up a schedule to visit each others' classes. The students were so proud to share their learning! And I truly believe it helped increase their environmental consciousness. 
Students teaching each other about their animals.
Teaching about the rainforest? Check out these resources:

Books


http://www.amazon.com/Rain-Forest-Brenda-Z-Guiberson/dp/0805065822


http://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Kapok-Tree-Amazon/dp/0152026142

I love these Magic Tree House guides - 
full of great information and very readable!

http://www.amazon.com/Forests-Magic-House-Research-Guide/dp/0375813551/ref=sr_1_23?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423348001&sr=1-23&keywords=rainforest

Websites


And here's a handy product to use with The Greak Kapok Tree. It integrates the story, reading about rainforest animals, and ideas for extensions! Grab it on TPT!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/The-Great-Kapok-Tree-Interdisciiplinary-Literacy-Unit-1697143




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