Pre-K & Preschool theme ideas for learning about animals that live in the rainforest.
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Check here for a complete list of Rainforest Books
Caps for Sale
This book is not about the rainforest, but it is a great book about monkeys. After we read the story, we act it out. Our props are colored felt circles for pretend caps. One child is the peddler and the other children are the monkeys. It’s a lot of fun because we get to shake our finger, and stamp our feet, and pretend to be mad.
Baby Python Dance
After reading the book, Verdi, we dance with Baby Pythons (a piece of yellow yarn). We use the song “The Bean Bag Boogie” [Greg & Steve] while using the snakes instead of bean bags.
The children walk around the circle on all fours like monkeys, carrying a “baby monkey” (bean bag) on their backs.
Children use Crayola Model Magic to make a snake. They roll it out into a snake shape, then shape the snake in any position they choose (some kids form their snakes into a coil and some form theirs in a curvy line). After the snakes have time to dry (a couple of days), the children paint them in the colors and patterns they choose. We look at snake photos on the internet to get ideas for the colors and patterns.
This is an activity that goes with any theme. Choose a book that goes with the theme, and have the children retell the story.
Read the blog post here for details: story retelling
Monkey See/Monkey Do
We do this activity after reading Caps for Sale which is a book about monkeys who copy everything. The children work in pairs to do this activity. One child makes a design of shapes and lines on a geoboard, and the monkey (the other child) copies the design. Then the children switch roles.
“The Umbrella” Characters
After reading Jan Brett’s book The Umbrella, we talk about what “characters” are in a story. The second time we read the story, each child is given a character flannel board piece from the story (these are printed from Jan Brett’s website). As we come to each character’s part in the story, the children place the character on the flannel board. After the story is read, we name each of the characters and talk about what they did in the story and what they said. At small group time, each child chooses their favorite character, and we make them into stick puppets (also printed from Jan Brett’s site). Each child describes their chosen character to the group.
The Umbrella Characters
Pattern Block Snakes
We use the pattern blocks to make snakes in an AABB pattern. For example, triangle, triangle, square, square, triangle, triangle, square, square. Another day, we use paper pattern blocks to make a pattern snake on paper.
Poison Frog Tumble
We use lima beans that were spray-painted blue on one side and red on the other to represent our poison dart frogs. Children put ten frogs in a cup, shake them, and toss the beans on a green felt mat. They count how many reds they tossed and how many blues.
Each child uses 20 pieces of plastic straws (cut 1-inch long) and 2 pieces of yarn. They use these to make snakes of two different sizes: one short and one long. They have to problem-solve and choose how many pieces of straw they want to string on each snake.
Children use jewel strings (we pretended they were snakes) of different lengths. They count the jewels on each string and line them up from shortest to longest.
Tree frogs have a sticky liquid on them that help them stick to trees and leaves (some tree frogs can even climb up a window pane.) Children cut out a tree frog, spread some jelly or jam on the back, and stick it to a window. The jam comes off with window cleaner.
Tree Frog Picture
Cut off the bottom and top of a 2-liter soda bottle (throw away the middle). Mix gravel with charcoal and layer it in the bottom of the soda bottle. Add a layer of potting soil. Sprinkle with water. Plant the plants and arrange stones, moss, and a plastic rainforest animal. Water every few weeks.
For the Science Center
Rainforest plants, such as bromeliads, Venus fly catcher, etc.
Children taste-test products from the rainforest: mango, banana, papaya, pineapple, coconut, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, chocolate. Children place a sticky note with their name on it on a chart graph under each fruit they liked.
Toppings: banana slices, coconut, chocolate chips, macadamia nuts, pineapple pieces.
Spread peanut butter on the English muffin. The children may add any toppings they choose.
*Check for any children with peanut allergy before doing this activity. Macadamia nut butter can be used in place of peanut butter.
Monkey Grid Games
Read about and print the Monkey Grid Game here.
Monkey Bingo Stamping Game
Read about and print the Monkey Bingo Game here.
Snake Pattern Block Mats
Print the Snake Pattern Block Mats here.
Rainforest Animal Picture Cards
Print the Rainforest Animal Picture Cards here.
- Five Little Monkeys, by Jack Hartmann on the “Math in Motion” CD
Find more Wild Animal Activities for Pre-K