Monday, October 13, 2014

Rainforest Biome Unit

When we designed our own science curriculum for this year I intended each unit to only last a month. That was until we started working on biomes. It quickly became evident that a month just wasn't going to be long enough. Instead we have dedicated two months to this unit; one biome per week with a week for a final project. I also intended to save up all my unit materials and photos and publish them in one blog post....then I realized it would be a MASSIVE post and probably more than a bit overwhelming. So I reevaluated and decided to do one post per biome. Seems simpler and less overwhelming to me!

We decided to start with the Rainforest biome. I figured it had enough interesting facts and animals to keep the kids attention.

I started out pulling facts from Duckster and then turning them into bite sized nuggets of information. I have found that throwing too much at them all at once means they retain less and less as the days go by.  I started off discussing the difference between food chains and food webs. I found this rainforest food web graphic to add to their notebooks....sorry I can't at the moment remember where I found it! If I remember I will add the link. has free ecosystem printables available. I just keep my worksheet printing to the 10 per month limit to keep it free.
 We also worked on learning the three different levels of the rainforest. I asked the girls to make a visual of the rainforest showing the three different levels and the different animals that would live in each layer. They had a great deal of fun learning about the different animals and deciding where to place them on their visual.
A huge blessing in our house this month has been the National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia. Seriously it is amazing! I would expect no less from National Geographic. We were able to check out our copy from the library and just keep renewing it this month. It has every animal you can think of and the kids LOVE looking through it trying to match animals up with their ecosystems.
Also this week we were blessed to find The Magic Tree House Afternoon on the Amazon with research guide at our local library. Our 8yr old LOVES this series and was more than happy to read and research any subject that Jack and Annie were involved in. The research guide goes very in depth and is a great asset.

We also spent several afternoons cuddled up in bed watching youtube videos about the rainforest. Seeing the ACTUAL rainforest is a big deal I think. I mean you can read about something till you are blue in the face but until you actually SEE it you really don't get the full effect. The kids loved getting to see all the amazing plants and animals and begged to watch "just one more" every time we did videos.

No rainforest unit would be complete without a trip to the zoo to see the actual animals. I think my favorite was the poisonous dart frogs. Something about all those bright colors makes me want to pick them up every time. I obviously would not have lived long on my own in the rainforest!

We were not done with just the zoo however. We also went to the local aquarium to check out their animals. I thought we would see mostly fish but was pleasantly surprised to see that they had several types of parrots, frogs, and lizards from the rainforest biome!

Over all I think we had a very good week studying the rainforest and I think the kids really retained a lot of the information. Total for the entire unit was $0. We used our zoo membership and were gifted free aquarium tickets for our field trips and our local library for our books. If you decide to study the rainforest I would love to hear about your units!

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