We are pleased to announce the second place winner in our Earth Day contest, Gabriela M. Doural of Bubbles, Environmental Education. Below you will find an excerpt from her contest entry that includes a lesson plan incorporating A Walk in the Rainforest.
I remember the first time I went to the St. Louis Zoo as a Docent; I have been there before, but I had never sat down by the glass at the Jungle of the Apes. I took my time and sat hoping to observe closely the gorillas at play. I wanted to observe, but realized that I was being watched very closely. Joey, one of the young gorillas, decided to sit down right in front of me and look into that “curly hair ape” who was watching him through his own window. My heart was pounding; I asked myself, “who is watching who?”
His eyes reflected very powerful and deep emotions; there was no need for language; we were communicating. I placed my hand on the glass; he looked at his and then he looked at his feet. I proceeded to look at mine and he placed his foot against the glass. I took my shoe off and placed it against the window; he looked at my foot and looked at his. I whispered “You are beautiful” through the glass; he looked at me and left to play.
“One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature, for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us, and even the smallest ant may wish to communicate with a man.”
– Black Elk
This is my story, the one that inspired me; the moment when I realized I had to do something. I can’t go to Africa right now, but I can try to inspire others here, at home. These gentle animals need our understanding and compassion; it is my hope that through education they will be saved. As an environmental educator, I visit different schools. My presentations and audiences vary, as well as my classrooms, which can be indoors or outdoors, but I always make sure I have a game and a story to support my theme.
Sharing Nature with Children by Joseph Cornell is an excellent source of interactive, cooperative, and fun games I always carry with me. Children from Kindergarten to eight grades enjoy the educational activities this book offers. I have utilized lots of them, but the most popular within my audiences are: The Noses Games, Animal Clue Relay, and Bat and Moth.
Whenever I am presenting a topic about the rainforest, or biodiversity, the Noses Game and Animal Clue Relay provide a great hook to begin the learning experience. I also utilize A Walk in the Rainforest by Kristin Joy Pratt which provides information on a variety of animals that live in these biomes. I can easily obtain animal facts for the Noses Game, or just read it to the students – they may look them up themselves also.
As an introduction to my “Apes” presentations, I like to initiate audiences to the apes’ environments, to their homes, the species they share their lives with, and the human impact in those environments so the following is an example of a successful presentation:
PROGRAM TITLE: The Rainforest
THEME: The Rainforest is also in my pantry
AUDIENCE: 3-5 grades
GOAL: To make learning enjoyable, make sure students enjoy the outdoors, and to awake environmental awareness by discovering the importance of all species on Planet Earth.
OBJECTIVE: After participating in this activity, 75% of the students will learn five facts of 5 different animals, 80% of the students will identify 5 products they consume that grow in a rainforest, 80% of the students will develop curiosity and will research about one or two animals covered in this lesson.
Pratt, K. A Walk in the Rainforest. Dawn Publications. Nevada City, CA. 1992
Cornell, J. Sharing Nature with Children. Dawn Publications. Nevada City, CA. 1998
Color pencils, pencils, and file cards
We begin by playing the Noses Game which provides the students with an enjoyable, engaging activity, and helps me to learn what they know about the rainforest.
After completing about 6-8 cards, I start my rainforest presentation introducing geographical location, forest layers, flora and fauna, products from the forest, etc.
Following my presentation, students are divided into groups and start researching some of the species that live in these biomes by reading A Walk in the Rainforest and other materials provided for that purpose. Their mission is to find 5 facts on 5 plants and 5 animals. They also have to name 5 products they have at home that come from the Rainforest.
We conclude the class by sharing feelings about conservation of the rainforest and its inhabitants; each student volunteers their thoughts, and names one thing they will do to protect it. We play the Animal Clue Relay (but this time we utilize the information they have collected).
I am pleased to report that at the end of every presentation, I watch the children and I enjoy when I discover I have lightened up a little spark of curiosity. May be, with time, “.. it will catch on fire.” – Anatole France