While tropical rainforests and the temperate forests of North America operate on many of the same ecological principles, they differ greatly in their climates, and in the types of soil, plants, and animals that make up the forest ecosystems. Students will explore the rainforest in different ways: researching rainforest inhabitants, mapping the route of neotropical migratory birds, and analyzing a case study involving a tropical rainforest.
This is one of 96 activities that can be found in PLT’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide. To get the activity, attend a training either in person or online and receive PLT’s PreK-8 Guide. Below are some supporting resources for this activity.
Every month we carefully select new tools and resources that enhance PLT’s lessons. These include educational apps, videos, posters, interactive websites, careers information, and teacher-generated materials. Browse a chronological listing below:
Developed by the Smithsonian National Zoo, the Migration Game tests students on their knowledge about bird migration. Depending on their answers, students will either help or hinder Wanda the Wood Thrush get from her winter home in Costa Rica to her summer home in Maryland. Pair the online quiz with our article How Plants and Animals Prepare for Winter and its links to more resources, along with writing prompts and research project ideas, to enrich the learning of your students on the topics of migration, changing seasons, and hibernation.
NestWatch Citizen Science Project
NestWatch is a nest-monitoring project developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in collaboration with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and funded by the National Science Foundation. Sign up with your classroom to become a certified NestWatcher and help track the status and trends in reproductive biology of birds including nesting, eggs laid, eggs hatched, and hatching survival. Record your observations on the NestWatch App. Data collected through this citizen science project is intended to study bird populations and how they may be changing as a result of climate change, habitat loss, and the introduction of invasive species. You can even create your own nest box trails to monitor birds more closely. NestWatch’s new free resource for middle school educators, called Thinking Outside the (Nest) Box, can help educators anywhere in the country create nest box trails for birds on school grounds in order to provide habitat and project-based learning.
The free Disneynature Explore application for iPads and iPhones combines an augmented reality experience with animal behavior gameplay to encourage young students (grades preK-3) and their families to get outside and connect with nature. In the app, 3D images of animals appear in the camera’s viewer, providing students with “wild adventures” in their own backyard. For example, students can see their surroundings through a butterfly’s eyes, follow tracks with a bear to find its cub, and crack a nut like a chimpanzee.
Earth from Space
This Smithsonian Institution website provides students (and teachers!) access to views of conditions and events on earth that are nearly impossible to document from the Earth’s surface. The site proves interactive; explaining how satellite imagery is gathered and used to better understand the world around us.
In this online simulation from ARKive, students ages 6-14 learn about conservation and science as they work as ecologists to protect the world’s species and habitats. Players replant native trees, evacuate non-infected forest species, survey coral reef health, and examine relationships between predator and prey. Teacher Notes and photos, videos, and facts about each featured habitat are also offered.
Canopy in the Clouds
This website provides an immersive video experience that presents an up-close look at a tropical montane cloud forest. Visitors click on numbered links to access video clips and background information for teachers and information for grades 6-8 on topics such as water, weather, soils, ecology, and the science processes. Canopy in the Clouds is also available in from this Spanish-language website (Dosel en las Nubes).
Forests, by Cathryn Sill
Look to Forests by Cathryn Sill to introduce early learners to forest habitats and the organisms found there. Each page presents one sentence describing a particular forest habitat: boreal forest, tropical rain forest, cloud forest, temperate rain forest, deciduous forest, or tropical dry forest. Each description is accompanied by a realistic illustration. The afterward also contains more information about each habitat, which might be helpful for educators. This book supports Next Generation Science Standard 2-LS4-1 (ISBN: 9781561457342, Grades preK-3).
Global Forest Watch
Global Forest Watch (GFW) is an interactive online forest monitoring and alert system designed to better visualize forest change across the globe. Developed by the World Resources Institute and partners, Global Forest Watch monitors forests across the world in near real time to show where trees are growing and disappearing. The system provides contextual data that fleshes out complex issues surrounding deforestation. It can be utilized by teachers for classroom demonstrations and activities, and by students for research.