Adapting to the Rainforest

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SWBAT choose an animal and portray their adaptation to the rainforest

Big Idea

Animals develop different adaptations to survive in their habitat. Students will act out those adaptations for one another.

I Can Statement and Introduction

10 minutes

I begin today's lesson by asking students to read the I Can Statement with me. We read, "I can create a rainforest puppet and show how it adapts to its environment."

I ask students, "How many of you can think of an animal that lives in the rainforest? Today we are going to read a book together about the rainforest. Pay attention to the animals because I cam going to ask you to create a puppet today and show with that puppet how the animal adapts to the rainforest."

"Can anyone tell me what I mean by adapts?" I let students answer with their ideas about what adapts means. We discuss their ideas and agree on one definition (that animals change or use a certain part of their body to help them survive in a particular environment or habitat).

I call students to the rug to share the story.

Literature Connection

15 minutes

To make sure that students are thinking about rainforest animals before they choose their puppet, I read a nonfiction book to them about rainforest animals. I read, "Smart Kids, Rainforest" by Roger Priddy. There are many books about rain forests and rain forest animals, so you can choose a book that is available to you.

I say, "today I am going to read you a nonfiction book about the rainforest. Do you remember what a nonfiction book is?" (a real book, true facts, etc.) "This book is about the rainforest and some of the animals that live there. As I read, be thinking about how the animals are made to survive in the rainforest and what special things they have to help them live there. When I am done, you will each choose one animal to create a puppet and have it tell us about its adaptations."

I read the book aloud, pausing to ask students questions about the animals, their adaptations, and the different parts of the rainforest environment.  I encourage students to share their thoughts about the book as I read and as we finish. This helps me to check for understanding as I read. 


Making Our Puppets

25 minutes

I ask each student to think of one animal that they saw in this book, in other books around the room, or in the videos we watched previously, that lives in the rainforest. "Can you think of an animal in the rainforest? What makes it possible for them to live in the canopy, or the forest floor, or in the trees? What do they eat that their body helps them to find, or catch? What about their body helps them to get around in their part of the rainforest?"

Today I will ask the students to create a puppet of a rainforest animal. The reason for the puppet is to get students actively involved with the content. In creating a puppet, students have to think about the distinguishing characteristics of the animal. If it is an animal that eats leaves, how does it obtain those leaves? Does it need claws to help it climb the trees first? Does it need sharp or not so sharp teeth? I want students to stay interested in the project, but I also want to see them thinking about what makes that animal special, and creating a puppet is one way to insure this.

"You are going to make a puppet of your animal. Be sure to put those special parts on your puppet (such as a tail on the monkey to help him get from one branch to another, or the beak of the bird that allows him to get nectar from a flower.) When we have made our puppets, I will film each of you having your puppet tell us about his/her adaptation to the rainforest. We will share the movie to learn about each other's animals."

"I am going to give each person a paper bag. You will use the paper bag as the head of your animal. You can use paper, fabric, yarn, crayons or markers, or other recycle materials to create your puppet. You can add a body if you want to." I ask for questions, demonstrate adding the paper bag and then let students spend time creating their puppets.

I circulate around the room to hear about what puppet they are making and how it adapts to the rainforest. Describing the Puppet If students are having trouble with the adaptations, I ask specific questions about what it might eat, where in the rainforest it would live, how it gets around, etc.

Writing Our Scripts

25 minutes

Students have listened to stories about the rainforest. They have watched videos and now they have created puppets. Today I want them to write about how their animal adapts to the rainforest. 

I begin by explaining to them that today we will write a script. "Does anyone know what a script is?" (the lines to a play). "Today you will work with one other person. You will use your Buddy Wheel to find a partner. You will write a short script where your 2 animals meet and talk about how they have adapted to life in the rainforest. I am going to demonstrate what I mean by borrowing 2 puppets."

I borrow 2 puppets from students and say as I move the puppets, "Hi, I am a tree frog. I live in the rainforest. What are you? "I am a boa constrictor. I live in the rainforest too." "I have sticky feet that help me to hold on to the trees in the rainforest, even when it rains a lot there." "I wrap around things so that helps me to move from tree to tree." "I do not like it very bright so I live in the trees, under the canopy, that way I can catch my food without being seen by other animals who might eat me." "I do not like it very bright either. I often go down to the ground to find my food where it is dark and cool."

I say to students, "Do you see how my animals talked to each other about where they live, how they move and why? That is what you want to do. Today you and your partner will write your scripts, and tomorrow we will film each puppet show so we can share them with each other, and with parents later on.

I give each pair of students a piece of paper and let them write their lines. I provide a format for those who need it. rainforest script.pdf I circulate around to read what groups are writing and to help them to pay attention to the adaptations of their animals. I provide sentence starters on the board to help students who may be struggling. I write: "Hi, I am a ___, what are you?"  "I live in the _________part of the rainforest because ___________" "I eat ___." "I move around the forest by ________________".  These starters provide students with a format to start their scripts.

When groups are done with their work, Puppets and a Script I film them as they have their puppets act out the conversations. (This filming can be done by the students themselves, and also done at a later date depending on time constraints.)

Sharing Our Shows

25 minutes

We invite guests from our building (such as the principal, librarian, educational technicians Etc.) to come to our movie preview. 

I project each video One Movie up on the Smart Board. Students have a chance to hear about other animals and to view their own work. I use their work as an assessment of understanding of animal adaptation to their environment.