Rainforest Unit Plan

Teacher: Katrina Macht
School: Hillside Intermediate
Grade Level: 5
Topic/Theme/Unit of Study: Tropical Ecology/Rainforest Connection
Duration of Study: 6 Weeks

Essential Questions

  1. How do the plant and animal relationships within a tropical forest affect the forest community?
  2. How are tropical forests and deciduous forests connected?
  3. How do human actions impact the plants and animals of tropical forests?
  4. What does the future hold in store for neotropical migratory birds?

Student Outcomes

The student will:

  1. Describe the characteristics of the tropical rainforests and identify some of the organisms that live there
  2. Explain the roles producers, consumers, and decomposers play in a forest community
  3. Analyze the different relationships that exist between organisms in the tropical forests.
  4. Explain the impact of human activity on forest ecology.

The student will:

  1. Formulate hypothesis based on prior knowledge
  2. Identify and analyze cause and effect relationships
  3. Design and conduct scientific investigations
  4. Use writing skills to
    • compare
    • contrast
    • evaluate consequences
  5. Write persuasively

Attitudes and Attributes
The student will:

  1. Appreciate plant and animal diversity
  2. Demonstrate open-mindedness to solve complex issues


Content Activities

Process Training Lessons

Internet Based Independant Projects/Studies

Language Arts

  1. Book talk - book related to tropical ecology
  2. Non fiction content reading
  3. "Lost in Jungle" (Nature Scope)
  4. Letter/email writing
  5. Write a newscast
  1. Jigsaw/SQ3R for reading strategies
  2. Use Bloom's Tax. and QAR for writing questions
  3. Cause and effect
  4. Compare and contrast
  5. Draw conclusions
  6. Write persuasively
  • Research the environment, present in a tropical forest and create a mural of the habitat
  • Create a children's book about tropical studies
  • Produce a video tape about tropical deforestation


  1. Calculate distance between BCI (Panama) and New Jersey
  2. Compare size (area) of tropical forests in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America
  3. Routes and distance traveled by neotropical migratory birds
  1. Use map key to calculate distances
  2. Research size of tropical rainforest regions and make comparisons
  • Design a tropical forest animal habitat an "dwelling". Write a real estate ad to advertise the animal's house
  • Create a booklet of interesting number facts about tropical forests

Social Studies

  1. Locate tropical forests around the world
  2. Locate Panama in a variety of resources. Describe its location in relation to the U.S. and Costa Rica
  3. "Tropical Trivia Trek" - (Nature Scope)
  4. Why save the rainforests?
  5. "Are we part of the problem?"
  1. Research specific tropical forests
  2. Research specific plant and animal species found on BCI (Panama)
  3. Use geography terms
  4. Map skills
  5. Evaluate tropical issues and solutions
  • Produce a photographic essay about tropical forests and inhabitants
  • Debate issues related to tropical ecology
  • Write letters to U.N. ambassadors of tropical countries, requesting information


  1. Make comparisons between NJ forests and forest on BCI
  2. Design a plant that might be able to live in a tropical rainforest
  3. Formulate hypothesis about tropical critters ("Jungle Sleuth")
  4. Design a method for exploring the canopy
  5. Plot study of Hillside school yard. Make comparisons to rainforest
  1. Compare/contrast forests
  2. Describe characteristics of tropical forests
  3. Investigate plant adaptations
  4. Analyze cause and effect relationships between species
  5. Design a plan/method for investigation
  6. Journal writing
  • Research items in your home that come from the rainforest. Create a graph to illustrate data by category.
  • Write letters to the editor and persuasive letters about a tropical issue

Getting Started

  1. KW - Tropical Forests
  2. Write essential questions
  3. Introduce Rainforest Connection
  4. Activity from Nature Scope - "A Single Journey"

Resources Needed

Textbook: Science Horizons
Rainforest Connection messages
Resource books

      • Science Teams manual
      • Nature Scope: Rainforests: Tropical Treasures
      • Exploring the Rainforest
      • Songbird Connection
      • Saving the Tropical Resources
      • The Rainforest Book
      • In the Rainforest

Student Books

    • Rain Forest Scenes
    • Life in the Rainforests
    • Journey Through a Tropical Jungle
    • Journey of the Red-Eyed Tree Frog
    • The Great Kapok Tree
    • Fluke's Journey
    • The Monkey Thief

Student Assessment

  • Writing Assignments: Holistic Score
  • Student Projects: Scored with Rubric
  • Science Journal Entries: Holistic Score

Handouts and Activity List