This list supports the teaching of science through the topic of Rainforests. Providing ideas and resources for linking aspects around Rainforests to science topics such as: plants, habitats, food chains, adaptation, classification, sound, materials, changing state and electricity.
Visit the primary resources for cross curricular topics webpage to access all resource lists:
Links and Resources
How would you construct a home? What materials would you construct a home with ? Taking account of the weather conditions in the rainforest, test and decide on which would be the best materials for a roof/walls etc for a tropical home.
This resource provides a practical context to explore the uses of everyday materials, based on their properties. Children are introduced to a problem of building a flood- proof home, which is faced by families in local communities in Bangladesh, looking at solutions that have been developed to solve this problem. This leads into an investigation in which children devise different types of enquiries to find out if a local material, straw, is the best material to use or if a different material would be better.
The Rainforests contain the widest range of plants of any other habitat in the World.
Describe the functions of the parts of the plant and then use an unusual rainforest plant to compare and contrast the parts between a commonly recognised plant e.g. dandelion and a giant water lily.
This resource has a variety of activities which introduces the children to the structure and function of the parts of a flowering plant. The ideas are varied such as splat, loop cards and bingo.
Relating differences between root structures and how there are plants in the rainforest which have root structures which are different to the ‘normal’ root structures which we tend to use as examples with the children . This could lead into an investigation to observe the functions of roots and even stems in the functions around supporting the plant and obtaining nutrition.
Further investigations could lead into the function of leaves in the growth of plants and this could then be developed and related back to the canopy levels in the rainforest and how the level of light in these canopies are reflected in the types of leaves the plants have at the different canopy levels.
This resource contains many investigations related to how plants grow and the factors which affect plant growth.
Look at how the rainforest plants have adapted to suit the life in the rainforest with the temperatures, humidity and amount of rainfall. The Plant adaptation file is a powerpoint which provides a good starting point for the pupils to understand the basics and then further develop their own ideas and examples from the rainforest.
Using this resource (first one in list ) as a base focussing on UK habitats the pupils can then recreate their own for a rainforest habitat. Activity 3,4 and 7 are particularly useful for this and Activity 7 does contain a rainforest example.
Look at different types of seed dispersal within the rainforest and which dispersal method works best depending on their position in the rainforest or the type of seed it is .
Is there a link between the size of the seed and the method of dispersal?
How does the size of the plant affect the type of seed it produces?
Does the position in the rainforest canopy affect the type of seed dispersal?
This resource provides a breakdown of the major types of seed dispersal and the characteristics of each which the children can then apply to their rainforest examples before designing and creating their own seeds.
This resource enables the children to conduct a hands-on investigation of the living things in a small local ecosystem, catalogue their findings and then compare their findings to that of the temperate rainforest. The comparison provides children with an appreciation for the uniqueness and biodiversity of the temperate rainforest. They are able to understand that this ecosystem is the home for a range of endangered species whose survival will depend on keeping this habitat intact. This can then lead into a research study around the destruction of these habitats.
Destruction of habitats-
The final activities in this resource give the children the opportunity to understand and become advocates for protecting ‘hotspot habitats’ to demonstrate how everybody can contribute to their survival.
Destruction of habitats -What is the common link between chocolate biscuits and orangutans? In this activity children learn about rainforests, their location, structure and some of the animals and plants that live in them. They look at rainforests in Sumatra and how deforestation has occurred in order to grow oil palm plantations and how this has affected Sumatran orangutans.
The children can research the reasons for and against the destruction of the rainforest habitats and the threats they are/have been faced with over the past few decades. What are the effects that this has had on the animals, plant and people who live in the rainforests and beyond the immediate environment to a more global potential impact . Is there a link between deforestation and climate change?
Destruction of habitats
This play looks at how an increase in the demand for meat can affect tropical rainforests. It explores some of the consequences for; animals and plants living in these areas, farmers and our planet. It would great for use in an assembly or in class, when learning about rainforests, healthy eating and sustainability. It contains roles for everyone in a class, music and sound effects and guidance for performance.
Challenge the class to think about what steps they can take to help save the rainforests. Following the research on this very emotive issue have a debate with the children taking sides as either conservationists or foresters or coffee/cocoa/rubber farmers.
The children could then discuss any local areas where habitats have been destroyed ( new building projects or bypasses etc ) and begin to research and study how they could support the habitat with the creation of insect homes (bug huts ), wildlife gardens (butterfly friendly plants) and feeding areas e.g. bird feeders etc.
Sky have developed a range of resources based around saving the rainforest which include videos , lesson plans ,activities and competitions.
Food chains- look at the food resources which are present in the rainforests for the creatures and possibly even the humans who live there. Groups of children could create a range of food chain mobiles looking at the feeding relationships for the different canopy levels and also food chain mobiles which might overlap between the canopies and then display these at the appropriate canopy level within the classroom.This resource allows the pupils to explore a range of different habitats from oceans and deserts to rainforests by considering different environments and the animals that live there. The resource begins to develop their understanding of adaptations for survival in a range of different habitats in an interactive computer quiz game.
Adaptations- Children can then study and research how a few of their favourite animals from the rainforest have adapted to living there.
Classification The children can identify nine newly discovered amphibian species using a simple dichotomous key. They can then look at photographs of a variety of newly discovered species identifying key features that differentiate them in order to create their own classification keys. Children within the class can then create keys for one of two different sets of species so they can then swap with their peers and use their newly created keys to identify the other set of species. This can then be extended to using keys to identify a range of familiar plants or animals from the rainforest then developing their own simple keys for the rainforest plants and animals possibly even for different canopy levels.
Once the children are able to recognise a variety of the animals living in the rainforest they can then begin to group them and start to look at the different characteristics between mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish and insects . This could then lead into opportunities for creating classification systems using the Carl Linneaus classification system
Once the children are familiar with simple circuits ,not only the construction of them but also the drawing of them, extend this further with the help and application of these resources which will help to put curriculum science in a real life context. The activities provide opportunities for children to extend their understanding of electricity by applying it to activities such as:
* switches and designing a circuit to switch on an alarm which could be used in the context as shown in the resource example or ..using your knowledge of electrical circuits can you plan, design then create an alarm system which would warn the local people or inhabitants that they are soon going to be flooded.
Study the water cycle in general along with how water changes in state, this could include a range of investigations looking at the changes in temperature, surface area etc and then apply this to the water cycle in the rainforest. This resource focuses on evaporation and condensation, it aims to develop investigative skills and contains ideas for investigations including :
* Evaporation rate of different liquids
* Factors which affect evaporation
* Observing condensation as part of the water cycle
* Evaporation from plants and the water cycle
There are a lot of materials which are harvested in rainforests around the world such as rubber, cocoa etc and investigations could then be done around the changes in state for such products as rubber , chocolate etc.
Listen to a variety of sounds from the rainforest and see if the children can identify any of them. What creatures do they think they are? Why do animals make sounds? Are the sounds different? Can they identify the sound of the rain falling?
Children could carry out a range of investigations looking at:
How far the different sounds would travel?
Do the sounds travel differently or sound different depending on where the sound is made? You could link this into lower in the canopy with echoing etc and the difference higher up.
Children could even try to make a range of instruments looking at the changes in pitch or volume even using their own bodies ( patting legs hands etc) to create ever louder volumes as they simulate the start, peak and dying away of the rainstorm.
The panpipes idea from Southern America would be a great link into the creation of different pitches and could be replicated in the classroom with the use of different lengths of straw. This resource shows you how to make and test these panpipes/straw oboes