"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million." -Walter Streightiff

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rainforest Jamboree

We headed to the steamy Amazon Rain Forest in South America to learn about many of its unique inhabitants.

We read an all-time favorite book about the rain forest called The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. We were introduced to many animals of the Amazon Rain Forest and empathized with their plight- a man arrived to chop down the tree in which they lived. We were so happy when he dropped his ax at the end and walked out of the forest without chopping down the tree. The animals made a great case for not chopping down the tree.
Using our hands as the leaves, we designed kapok trees- majestic trees of the tropical rain forest, home to many rain forest creatures. We cut trunks out of brown paper and glued them onto a heavy piece of paper. Next, we painted our hands and printed them on our tree.
The Rain Forest Grew all Around  by Susan K. Mitchell was another story about a kapok tree and its inhabitants.
We played, "Mr. Caiman, Can I Cross Your River, Please?". Caimans are members of the crocodilian family. They live in the rivers and lakes of the Amazon Rain Forest. We took turns being Mr. Caiman. We had to ask permission to jump over his river made with two jump ropes or strips of masking tape. Players asked, "Mr. Caiman, can I cross your river, please?" "Mr. Caiman" responded with, "Only if you’re wearing _________ (a certain color or certain piece of clothing)".
We used eye droppers and diluted paint to create beautiful butterflies from the South American Rain Forest. Butterflies are symmetrical, so we folded our butterfly shaped paper in half and then opened it up and dripped a few drops of vibrant colors of paint onto the paper.  We then refolded the paper and smoothed it with our hands. When we opened it up, a beautiful butterfly appeared. 

We met many more charming rain forest creatures in Jan Brett's book, The Umbrella. This book probably got most votes for favorite this week.
To the tune of "Five Green Speckled Frogs", we sang and dramatized:
Five red-eyed tree frogs (Hold up 5 fingers)
Sitting in the rainy fog (Make raining motion with fingers of both hands)
Eating some most delicious bugs,
(Fingers to mouth as if eating)
Yum, yum. (Rub stomach)
One jumped into the pool
(Point finger up and then down as in jumping)
Where it was nice and cool (Use hand as fan)
Then there were four red-eyed tree frogs.
(Hold up 4 fingers)

We chanted about a humongous snake from the rain forest. A boa constrictor can grow to be up to 13 feet long. They squeeze their prey and then stretch their jaws wide to swallow large prey whole. It was fun to sing and play with the  parachute. To the tune "Wheels on the Bus", we sang:

I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor,
I’m being swallowed by a boa constrictor,
and I don’t like it very much.
Oh, no. Oh, no. He swallowed my toes.
Oh gee, oh gee. He’s up to my knees.
Oh my, oh my. He’s swallowed my thighs.
Oh fiddle, oh fiddle. He’s up to my middle.
Oh bleck, oh bleck. He’s reached my neck,
Oh dread, oh dread. He’s swallowed my head.
I’ve been swallowed by a boa constrictor,
a boa constrictor, a boa constrictor.
I’ve been swallowed by a boa constrictor,
and I don’t like it very much!

Many bright colored birds live in the canopies of the Amazon rain forest- toucans, macaws, and cock-of-the-rock. They like to eat fruit, seeds and nuts. We mixed together some dried fruits like raisins, banana chips, pineapple, papaya and mango, added some nuts and chocolate chips to create a "Macaw Mix" of special treats from the rain forest. We used different kinds of "bird beaks" to eat our treats. We had toothpicks to poke the soft fruit, clothespins and tweezers for pinching nuts, straws for sucking and spoons for scooping.
We decided to try another food that comes from the rain forest- pineapple. We took turns holding it, feeling its rough, pokey exterior, and then we cut it up to taste it. 
The Amazon Rain Forest is filled with many primates- 
We went swinging with the monkeys in the trees. As we swung, we chanted:
Five little monkeys swingin’ in a tree.
(swing arm to side with five fingers hanging down)
Teasing Mr. Crocodile,
“You can’t catch me! You can’t catch me!”
(thumbs in ears, wiggle fingers)
Along comes Mr. Crocodile,
(one hand on top of the other, moving as a crocodile)
Quiet as can be…
(finger to lips as in shhhhh)
(clap hands together)
Four little...Three little...Two little…One little…
No little monkeys swingin’ in a tree
(swing arm with fist hanging down)
But here comes Mr. Crocodile as fat as he can be!
(both arms out in front as in “fat”)

The rain forest teems with an abundance of insects. Leaf cutter ants march through the rain forest carrying up to ten times their own weight in leaf pieces to take back to their underground nests. 

We sang “The Ants Go Marching”.
We even made up some of our own verses!
The ants go marching one by one, Hurrah, hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one, Hurrah, hurrah!
The ants go marching one by one
The little one stops to play the drums
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
To get out of the rain
Boom, Boom, Boom...

Two by two...
The little one stops to tie his shoe

Three by three...
The little one stops to scratch his knee

Four by four...
The little one stops to shut the door

Five by five...
The little one stops to take a dive

Six by six...
The little one stops to pick up sticks

Seven by seven...
The little one stops to pray to heaven

Eight by eight...
The little one stops to shut the gate

Nine by nine...
The little one stops one last time

Ten by ten
The little one stops to say, “The End!”

Next, we were leaf cutter ants as we practiced with scissors. We had leaf shapes to cut with scissors. 
 We read Jaguar by Helen Cowcher.  Since jaguars got our vote for favorite animal of the Amazon Rain Forest, we read this book many times, which endeared us to the jaguar even more.
Jaguars are one of the largest predators in the Amazon Rain Forest. A jaguar’s spots that form rosettes on its fur, are like its fingerprints. The pattern of rosettes is unique to each individual jaguar. We used black paint and spools of different sizes to make spots on jaguar shapes. 
Our trip to the rain forest was a memorable one as always. 
We'll go back again someday!

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