We had so much fun exploring rainforests at Camp Anderson last week! I’ve been fascinated by rainforests since I was a child, so I was super excited for this week. The kids had a blast, and they learned a lot, too!
Online Educational Resources – I’ve made a conscious effort to minimize screen time during camp. There are, however, some amazing and worthwhile online resources that can help children to build background knowledge about various topics. This week, I brought my laptop outside during camp on two different occasions to help the kids learn more about rainforests and the animals that live in them.
One day, we went on pbskids.org to watch Wild Kratts “Rainforest Stew”. The full episode is currently available for free, but it expires 5 days from today. The kids all loved watching this fun and informative show!
Another day, we went on BrainPop Jr. to watch a short informational video about rainforests. BrainPOP Jr. and BrainPOP are perfect for introducing a new topic. They offer short, engaging videos that are packed with information. When I taught elementary school, I used this site frequently. You have to have a subscription to view the videos, but my children’s school offered their username and password for us to use during distance learning last spring and for this summer.
Rainforest Animal Crafts – Many different species of animals live in rainforests, so there are a ton of craft possibilities that tie into this theme. Here are three fun crafts ideas:
- Plush Craft Leopards – These were so much fun! The kids used a little stylus (included with the project kit) to punch small pieces of colored fabric into a 3-D leopard. I was worried that this was going to be too difficult for my 3.5 year old niece but, with a little adult assistance, she quickly got the hang of it and was able to do it independently. All of the kids really enjoyed doing this project, and the completed leopards were adorable!
2. Wooden Wiggly Snakes – My older daughter attended an after-school art class, focused on animals, last year. During one of her classes, she decorated a wiggly wooden snake. She named it, built a box for it and, to this day, it still “lives” in the box on her dresser. I figured since she loves her wiggly snake so much, it would be a fun to have all of the kiddos make them during Rainforest Week. I gave each of the kids two wooden snakes and a bunch of markers. They colored and decorated their snakes while I read aloud one of my all-time favorite children’s books about rainforests, The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry. Coloring the snakes was the perfect activity to do while listening to the book. They enjoyed decorating the snakes and we paused often to discuss the various animals in the book and to discuss the message of the book at the end.
3. Rainforest Animal Suncatchers – I bought these and, unfortunately, we ran out of time to do them last week. I’ll save them and use them as a rainy day craft one day this summer. Suncatchers are always an easy and fun project for all ages. If you don’t have suncatcher paint, mix clear Elmer’s glue with paint to make transparent paint that works well for suncatchers!
Rainforest Snack – My mom found this adorable idea for monkey cupcakes. To make them, bake any kind of cupcakes and let them cool completely. Have the kids help to frost the cupcakes with chocolate icing. Using three vanilla wafers per cupcake, give your monkey two ears and a face. Add edible eyes, and pipe on black icing for the monkey’s nostrils and mouth. Yum!
Rainforest Animal Match – This rainforest animal matching activity is a great visual discrimination exercise for preschool-aged children. It is also the perfect way to introduce unfamiliar animals to children of all ages. I bought this set of rainforest animals from Amazon, and I created a labeled picture card for each of the twelve animals included in the set. After printing out the picture cards, I cut them apart and laminated them for durability. I placed all of the animal figures and animal cards on the table, and the kids took turns matching the figures to the pictures. As they matched each one, we discussed facts that we knew about the animals. *Please note that the set I purchased is intended for ages 3 and up. I pulled some larger rainforest animals from our toy room for my 15 month old son to play with while the older children played with the smaller animals.
Rainforest Animal Research Project – This project was geared toward the older kids (ages 6-9), but it could definitely be modified for younger children. The kids paired off and worked together to select a rainforest animal to research. They used Kiddle (a kid-safe search engine) to research five facts about their animal. They then made posters with hand-drawn and/or printed out images of their animal, along with the facts that they found. The 8 and 9 year old were able to complete the research independently, while the two 6 year olds required some assistance. They all learned a lot and were so proud of their posters!
I hope you and your little cubbies have as much fun exploring rainforests as we did!
I’ll be back next week with ideas for Disney Week!