Marie Curie Math & Science Center
Congers Elementary School/Clarkstown Central School District
Group 3 A Animal Life In The Rain Forest/Grade 3

Commencement Content Standards

Information Systems: Students will access, generate, process, and transfer information using appropriate technologies.

Mathematics: Students will understand mathematics and become mathematically confident by communicating and reasoning mathematically, by applying mathematics in real-world sett'mgs, and by solving problems through the integrated study of nwnber systems, geometry, algebra, data analysis, probability, and trigonometry.

Science: Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical developmental of ideas in science.

Benchmark Standards: Elementary

Content Standards

  • Information technology is used to retrieve, process, and communicate information and as a tool to enhance learning
  • Students use mathematical reasoning to analyze mathematical situations, make conjectures, gather evidence, and construct an argument
  • Students use mathematical operations and relationships among them to understand mathematics
  • Students use mathematical modeling/multiple representations to provide means of presenting, interpreting, communicating, and connecting mathematical information and relationships
  • Individual organisms and species change over time Plants and animals depend on each other and their physical environment

Performance Standards

  • Students will be able to use a variety of software packages to enter, process, display, and communicate information in different forms using text, tables, pictures, and sound
  • Students will use models, facts, and relationships to draw conclusions about mathematics and explain their thinking
  • Students will justify their answers and solution processes
  • Students will use logical reasoning to reach simple conclusions
  • Students will develop strategies for selecting the appropriate computational and operational methods in problem-solving situations
  • Students will use construct tables, charts, and graphs to display and analyze real-world data
  • Students will use multiple representations (simulations, manipulative materials, pictures, and diagrams) as tools to explain the operation of everyday procedures
  • Students will describe how the structures of plants and animals compliment the environment of the plant or animal
  • Students will observe that differences within a species may give individuals an advantage in surviving and reproducing
  • Students will describe how plants and animals, including humans, depend upon each other and the nonliving environment

Content Standards And Performance Measures For This Unit

Content Standards

  • Students will identify animals that live in the rain forest.
  • Students will identify the different forms of life that exist in the different layers of the rain forest.
  • Students will be able to describe why there are different forms of life in each layer of the rain forest.
  • Students will be able to define and use appropriate vocabulary (adaptations, camouflage, biodiversity, extinct, endangered).
  • Students will describe adaptations in the rain forest.
  • Students will identify the characteristics of insects.
  • Students will gain an understanding of the ways insects are classified. Students will identify and describe reasons why animals are in danger of becoming extinct.
  • Students will use appropriate technology to create a final report on one animal that lives in the rain forest.
  • Performance Measures (see scoring rubric)

Students will record and communicate their investigation of animals of the rain forest using appropriate technology. They will do this at least to the, standard level.

Scoring Rubric

  Above Standard At Standard Below Standard Below Standard
Organization I consistently communicated thoughts and showed organization I demonstrated structure and sequence of ideas including beginning, middle and end I showed some signs of structure and sequencing I lacked sequencing and structure
I used a variety of details to support the topic
Information and details are understandable, appropiate, and support the topic Contains some relevant materials but lacks coherence and development of ideas Little or no relevance
Word Choice I used vivid and descriptive language (adjectivies, similies) and appropiate vocabulary I used effective and descriptive language I did not always use descriptive language I did not use correct or appropiate language
Mechanics I consistantly used appropiate capitalization, punctuation, spelling and complete sentences I usually used appropiate capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and complete sentences I sometimes used appropiate capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and complete sentences I never used appropiate capitilzation, punctuation, spelling, and complete sentences
Presentation Final piece and attractive with no errors Final piece is neat and easy to read with few errors Final piece is hard to read with many errors Final piece lacks neatness and accuracy

Day 1: Begin the study of animal life in the rain forest with a KWL chart

GROUPING- whole class or small groups
TIME- 40 minutes for the initial lesson; ongoing throughout the unit
PROPS- large chart paper, easel, markers, trade book*- Cherry, L. (1992)
The Great Kapok Tree. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

  • The teacher should begin this lesson by posing the first question to the students, "What do you think you know about animal life in the rain forest?" This is a brainstorming activity. It is important to tell the students that you will accept all responses at this point. Throughout the unit the class will investigate their responses to see if they were correct or incorrect.
  • Next, ask the second question, "What do you want to know about animals life in the rain forest?" Record all students' questions. Encourage students to think about aspects such as food, homes, enemies, etc.
  • Next, the teacher should read aloud the book, The Great Kapok Tree. During the reading, focus the students' attention on the animals and their relationship with the Kapok Tree.
  • Following the reading, begin to record students' responses to the third question, "What have we learned about animal life in the rain forest?"
  • This activity should be ongoing throughout the unit. As the class discovers new facts about animals they should be added to the list.
  • Students should also be encouraged to try to find answers to their questions about animal life.

*any trade book that deals with animal life in the rain forest may be substituted for The Great Kapok Tree.

Day 2: This lesson introduces the students to the many ways animals have adapted to life in the rain forest.

GROUPING- whole class or small group (reading ability should be taken into consideration when grouping students)
TIME- 20-30 minutes
PROPS-copies of the reproducible page Animals of the Rain Forest

  • The teacher should begin the lesson by discussing animals and what they need to survive (food, protection). The terms adaptation and camouflage should be introduced to the students. The teacher should make sure the students have an understanding of these concepts before reading.
  • The students should read about the animals and complete the cloze activities on the bottom of each page.
  • To bring closure to the lesson, the teacher should ask the students what they can add to the third column of the KWL chart which focuses on new learning.

Day 3- This video lesson provides the students with an understanding of the importance of the rain forest to the world as well as the threats that have made it an endangered ecosystem. The video is long and should be broken up into parts. The following parts are recommended:

  • Part 1: introduction and discussion of the term biodiversity
  • Part 2: animals (included in lesson on day 4)
  • Part 3: insects ('included 'in lesson on day 6)
  • Part 4: destruction of rain forests (may be shown in connection with a lesson focusing on preservation of the rain forest)
GROUPING- small groups
TIME- 45 minutes (20-25 minutes for viewing of part 1, 20 minutes for hands-on lesson)
PROPS- 3-2-1 Contact You Can't Grow Home Again (Children's Television Workshop; Sunburst Communications), 1 pound packages of Skittles candies for each cooperative group, 2 small muffin tins for each group, labels, markers, pencils

Prior to viewing part I of the video, the teacher should lead a discussion of what the students already know about animal life 'in the rain forest. Tell the students to look for animals in the video and listen for their names as they watch the video.
  • Begin the tape and let it run through the entire first part of the video.
  • After the students have watched the first part, review terms such as biodiversity, extinction, and endangered species. Brainstorm a list of animals the children saw while watching the tape.
  • Place the students into cooperative groups of 3-5 students.
  • Each group should be given a bag of skittles. Skittles come in five colors. Each color represents a different animal species. Groups should sort their animals into the sections of the muffin tin. Using the labels and the markers, groups should label each section of the muffin tin with a name -of an animal recalled from the video. The students should also record the number of animals that are in each section.
  • Next direct the students to pour their animals back into the bag and shake them up. Then randomly spread the animals into the sections of the muffin tin with each part representing an acre of the rain forest. The goal of this part of the activity is to show the children that there may be many different species spread out all over the rain forest. If one species is in one acre and that acre is destroyed then that particular species win be extinct.
  • Once the students have completed the activity, the teacher should ask questions such as... "What can you say about the animals in your muffin tin?" Try to lead students to the realization that there are many different species of animals but there may not be a large number of each species. This is the reason why so many animals of the rain forest are endangered or extinct.
  • To bring closure to this lesson, the teacher should ask the question, "What have you learned today?" Responses can be recorded on the KWL chart.

Day 4: This lesson incorporates the video introduced in day 3. It also serves as the beginning of the research the students will do on a rain forest animal. The students should begin their research following this introduction and they should be given time (45-60 minutes each day for approximately five days) to research their animals. This research report will be the culminating activity for the unit. It will be scored using the scoring rubric.

GROUPING- whole class, pairs, individual; Teachers may wish to assign two children to the same animal so that they can assist one another in researching the animal.
TIME- 60-90 minutes (20 minutes for part 2 of the video, the remainder of the time should be spent explaining the research report and allowing the students the time to begin their research.
PROPS- video, research packets, bag, slips of paper with the names of animals, copies of the research packets, research material (nonfiction trade books, CD ROM applications such as The San Diego Zoo Presents the Animals: A True Multimedia Experience, Software Toolworks, Inc. 1992, internet websites such as

  • The teacher should begin the lesson with a class discussion focusing on what the students already know about animals of the rain forest.
  • Next the students should watch part 2 of the video.
  • Following the video, the teacher should ask the students to name all the animals they can remember that live in the rain forest,
  • Next the students should be directed to pick a slip of paper out of the bag.
  • Next the teacher should explain the research packets. **Lessons on notetaking should precede this activity.
  • The students should then be given time to begin their research. It is important to set up schedules for the students to use computers.
  • Time must be allowed for the students to gather their information, write rough drafts, peer edit, conference with the teacher, and prepare a final report. The final report may be hand written or prepared through the use of technology such as the word processor u g programs such as PowerPoint, or Hyperstudio.
  • Final reports should be shared.

Day 5: This activity is an extension of the research report. In this activity the students will create three-dimensional models of the animals they are researching. Prior to this activity, a bulletin board showing the layers of the rain forest should be displayed or created with the students. Teachers may wish to use the attached activity sheet that includes directions for creating a class mural.

GROUPING- individual
TME- 45 minutes
PROPS- large construction paper, crayons, scissors, stuffing, pictures of rain forest animals

  • Students should be given time and freedom to create models of their animals using reference material.
  • After all the students have completed their models, they should be required to place the animals in the correct layer of the rain forest require


Day 6- This lesson incorporates the use of part 3 of the video shown on days 3 and 4. In this activity the students will be introduced to the many different insects that live in the rain forest.

GROUPING- whole class, individual
TIME- 50-60 minutes (15 minutes for the video, 35-45 minutes for the activity)
PROPS- video, Entomologists in Action worksheet, clay (optional)

  • Prior to this lesson, the teacher should make sure students know the characteristics of Insects (six legs, two antennae, four wings-if it has wings, three body parts-head, thorax, abdomen, two eyes)
  • During the video direct the students attention to the ways different species are classified and the characteristics that distinguish one species from another species such as the shape of the wings, feet, etc. Discuss the way the people in the video analyzed the katydid they found in the rain forest.
  • After the video, discuss what the students learned about the classification of animals-insects, in particular.
  • Hand out the Entymologists in Action worksheets and allow the students time to make believe they are entymologists and create their own insects.
  • Students may illustrate their insects or create three dimensional models out of clay.
  • Projects should be shared.

**Teachers may wish to do a study of the life cycle of the butterfly as they study the rain forest**

Day 7- This activity incorporates the skill of letter writing. Teachers may wish to break it up into two days because the students will need to write a rough draft, proofread and edit, and write a final draft before it is mailed. Students may write final drafts on rain forest stationery or use a word processor.

GROUPING- individual or pairs
PROPS- copies of the rain forest stationery, word processors
TIME- 60-90 minutes

  • Begin with a discussion of rain forest animals and what it means to be an extinct or endangered species. Remind the students that every year millions of acres of rainforest are destroyed. Because of this, many animals are left without food or homes.
  • Have students write a letter to the Center for Action for Endangered Species (I 75 Main Street, Ayer, AL4, 01432). In the letter, direct students to explain why they are interested in the preservation of the rain forest. Students should also request a complete list of the restrictions and laws placed on endangered and threatened animals.
  • Wait for the responses and share the information

Day 8- This activity incorporates the use of poetry. This activity provides a meaningful connection between language arts and science/social studies

GROUPING- individual, pairs
PROPS- Samples of various forms of poetry, books of poetry, markers, chart paper
TIME- 30-40 minutes

  • Prior to this activity, the teacher should begin reading and writing various fonns of poetry with the students.
  • Once the students are familiar with poetry, have them choose a type of . poem from the list and write a poem about the rain forest.
  • Students should be encouraged to illustrate their poems and/or use the computer to organize their poetry into a book.
  • Poetry should be shared.

Types of Poetry Teachers must know the correct form that is used for each type of poem (number of lines, syllables)

  • Hiku (originated in Japan)
  • Acrostic Poetry (see below)
  • Sijo (originated in Korea)

Acrostic Poetry

Tropical and beautiful,
Oh what vibrant colors!
Up in the hollow trees they sleep.
Central and South
America is where they live,
Nibbling on a piece of fruit.

Day 9- This activity focuses on math. It incorporates the use of problem solving skills.
GROUPING- whole class, pairs, individual
PROPS- chart paper, markers, writing paper or math logs/notebooks, scale
TIME- 45-55 minutes

  • The teacher should write the following word problem on chart paper: A gorilla can weigh 300 pounds (136 kilograms). Use this information to solve the following problems.
  • How many students will it take to equal the weight of one gorilla?
  • Weigh students and record the information. Have students work with a partner to find a combination that comes close to 300 pounds.
  • Challenge them to find the fewest number of students possible.
  • Allow the students time to work and explain the way they figured out their answers-verbally and/or in written form.
  • Have students use information they have learned about the animals they researched to write original word problems. Students should ask classmates to solve their problems.

Additional math activity:
Have students select a rain forest animal and find out the amount of food consumed by the animal in one day. Add or multiply to determine how much is consumed 'm a week, month,, or year.

Day 10- This activity requires the students to include a large number of rain forest animals and the movements they might make as they travel through the rain forest.

GROUPING- cooperative groups of 3-5 students
PROPS- copies of the activity sheets, A Walk through the Rainforest, books
on the rain forest, a thesaurus for each group
TIME- 45-60 minutes

  • Begin by having the students find a rain forest animal for each letter of the alphabet.
  • Have the students work cooperatively complete the activity sheet. Encourage the groups to be creative in choosing words to describe each animal's movements.
  • When the groups have completed their activity sheets share/compare each group's responses.


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