Discover the Rainforest with Your Preschooler
A Classroom Rainforest
Set the stage for this preschool rainforest theme by turning part of your classroom into a rainforest. A terrific place to do this is in your dramatic play area. Since the walls in my classroom were made of cement blocks, I was able to twist large sections of brown butcher paper to form tree trunks and limbs. I hot glued them onto the walls. Hang green crepe paper streamers from the ceiling to create the jungle feel. Loop some of the streamers, hang some straight at different lengths, and braid some streamers. Lay sisal mats on the floor. Bring in the appropriate stuffed animals and consider moving your aquarium and ant farm into this area. Add binoculars, magnifying glasses, and explorer gear to complete this preschool rainforest theme area.
For art, cut out toucan or parrot shapes from white construction paper. Have your preschoolers cut or tear pieces of brightly colored tissue paper and glue them to the cutout. Punch a hole on top of the bird's head and attach a string or ribbon. Hang from the ceiling. You can do something similar by cutting out monkey shapes from poster board or card stock. Allow your preschoolers to cut and glue faux fur on the cutout.
There are many sounds in the rainforest that you can incorporate into your music program. Listening to a CD of rainforest sounds is good for quiet time but it is also good to practice distinguishing different sounds. Play a clip of the CD during circle time and see how many sounds your preschoolers can identify. A nice music project that incorporates art is to have your preschoolers make their own rainmakers. Attach a circle of poster board to the bottom of an empty paper towel tube. Let your preschoolers decorate the tube using markers, crayons, glitter, stickers, and ribbon. Fill the tube half full with a mixture of dry beans and rice. Attach another circle of poster board to the top of the tube to complete the rainmaker.
There are many animals you can study for science. Some animals that live in the rainforest are jaguars, toucans, parrots, gorillas, tarantulas, and monkeys. Make or purchase matching sets of rainforest animal cards. Have preschoolers turn all the cards face down and take turns trying to flip over a matching set. This is a good unit to introduce the concept of endangered species and to talk about some simple things we all can do to protect the environment we live in.
There are several excellent books about the rainforest. I like The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, Who Lives in the Rainforest by Susan Canizares, and Rainforest Animals by Paul Hess.