The Great Kapok Tree: A Rainforest Lesson

By Tracey Bleakley

This lesson using the book "The Great Kapok Tree" by Lynne Cherry introduces your students to the importance of the rainforests. The activities work well as both literacy and social studies activities.

The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is the story of two men who go into a rainforest to cut down a large kapok tree. When one of the men takes a break and falls asleep, the animals of the rainforest whisper in ear to try to persuade not to cut down the tree. This lesson focuses on the reason that the tree is important to the different animals.


The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

Chart paper and markers

Construction paper, pencils, crayons, scissors

White paper


  1. Read the book The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry to the class. As you read discuss the different reason that the animals want to save the kapok tree.
  2. After reading make a chart of the animals and what they said about the importance of the kapok tree.
  3. Put the students into groups of two or three. Then assign each group a different animal from the book. Have each group make their animal out of construction paper and color and cut it out. Then show them how to make a speech bubble and have them write their animal's reason for saving the tree. You could also have them write the reason on sentence strips if you don't want to make the speech bubbles.
  4. Arrange the animals and the reasons on a bulletin board or large piece of bulletin board board paper under the title "Save The Great Kapok Tree" for a cute student-made display. If want make a large kapok tree out of bulletin board paper for the middle of the board.


Give each student a piece of paper and have him fold it into four sections. Have him write a reason to save the rain forest in each box and explain what the animals said about that reason. Some reasons to look for are oxygen, beauty, animals homes, food and soil preservation.


  • Have each students write a letter to the man in the book to persuade him not to cut down the tree. These could be drafts of letters written in science notebooks or you could use this as a writing assignment and have the students revise and edit the letters. Provide rainforest stationary for the final draft.
  • Use the animals in the book The Great Kapok Tree to make some math story problems for the students to solve. You can make some open-ended problems like "If there were 8 bees and butterflies at the great kapok tree, how many of each could there have been?" Change the numbers to make the problems harder or easier, depending on your students. You can also make problems like "If there were 3 jaguars in the tree, how many legs were there in all? How many tails? How many legs and tails?" These are also easily changed by using different animals and numbers. Combine animals to make the problems more of a challenge. "There were 2 bees and 3 porcupines. How many legs were there?"

The Great Kapok Tree is a great choice for a lesson on the importance of the rainforests. You can find another lesson plan about saving the rainforests right here on Bright Hub!