Suggested Grade Level: 2nd grade
Student will create a rainforest terrarium using materials provided by the teacher. Student will participate in classroom
- The Tropical Rain Forest: A Web of Life by Philip Johansson
- Soda bottle (one for each student)
- Dirt or potting soil
- Small plant
Ask the children what the main form of weather is in the tropical rain forest. They should, with some background knowledge, be able to answer this very quickly: it is rain, of course! Tell students that as a whole class, we will mimic the sounds of a rain storm, complete with sprinkling, thunder, hard rain, etc. This activity is from the Project Wet book and a description is attached to the end of this lesson.
Prior knowledge: basic information about the rainforest and its climate
- Ask students why they think it rains so much in the rain
- Read the excerpt on “Recycled Water” in The Tropical Rain Forest by Philip Johansson. Explain to students that the tropical rain forest, literally, recycles its water and “creates” its own rainy climate.
- Tell students that this process begins when water on the forest floor and in the leaves of plants and trees heats up
and changes from liquid water into a gas called water vapor. Does anyone know what special name we give to the process of something turning from a liquid to a gas? If no one knows, tell students that this special name is called “evaporation.” Ask students if they can think of other examples of when evaporation takes place. Example: rain puddle dries up.
- After the liquid water “evaporates,” it turns into water vapor. Water vapor travels higher into the atmosphere to
form clouds over the forest. With an average of 6 feet of rainfall per year, it is hard for these clouds to hold all the
moisture of the forest. When a cloud cannot hold anymore moisture, or water vapor, it releases it, causing it
to...ask students if they know what happens when the cloud can no longer hold any more moisture. It rains!
- Explain to students that this process repeats over and over and over again, causing it to rain every day in the rain forest, and in many cases more than once per day.
- Tell students that we will be creating our own mini rainforest. After making their rain forest, they will get to
take it home and observe it recycle its water. They won’t even have to water it for a very long time! Ask students what they think will happen within their mini-rainforest. Teacher may have to explain “condensation” and how the water in their mini-rainforest will evaporate and form con-
densation on the top and sides of the soda bottle. This water will then drip back down to their plant and water it. Compare this process of condensation to how the cloud cover has to release excess moisture.
- Provide students with the materials needed to create their terrarium. Walk them through, step by step, how to create their mini-rain forest. Be sure that you are creating one too, as you are explaining it to the students.
- After completing the terrarium, ask questions to review the lesson, such as what evaporation is and how the terrarium compares to the real rain forest.
Check for Understanding
This occurs when teacher asks students questions about the lesson to review.