Protecting the Rainforest

The Tropical Rainforest Habitat

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The Tropical Rainforest Habitat

Peek inside the wettest habitat on land to learn about the special adaptations plants and animals make to ensure survival, including symbiosis. Take students through three layers of the rainforest to understand the importance of the rainforest to living things. See that much of the rainforest continues to be destroyed and discover the efforts taken to protect the rainforest for future generations.

Peek inside the wettest habitat on land to learn about the special adaptations plants and animals make to ensure their survival.

  1. Students will understand that a habitat is a place where plants and animals naturally live. It provides the food, water, and shelter that are needed for survival.
  2. Students will know where the rainforest habitat is located. Most rainforests are found in the Tropical Zone, which circles the earth around the Equator between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
  3. Students will know that the climate of the rainforest habitat is best described as wet, warm, and sunny. In the Tropic Zone, the sun shines directly overhead about twelve hours each day. The temperature usually remains at a moderate 80(F. The rainforest habitat is the wettest land habitat; it rains an average of 200 days of the year. In a year, the tropical rainforest often receives over 200 cm of rain and up to 632 cm.
  4. Students will realize that the tropical rainforest is home to many plants and animals.
    1. Plants: About half of the plant species on the planet live in the rainforest. There are so many different species that scientists have not yet identified all of them. Over 250 types of trees can exist in a single area of rainforest habitat.
    2. Animals: More types of animals live in the rainforest than anywhere else on land. Most prevalent are the 42,000 varieties of insects that inhabit the tropical rainforest.
    3. Symbiosis: Survival is made easier when plants and animals form symbiotic relationships. Many plants and animals that live together interact in such a way that is beneficial to each other. For example, trees provide shelter for some animals, which in turn spread their seeds.
  5. Students will identify the three layers of the rainforest.
    1. Canopy: The tops of the trees form a leafy layer, resembling a roof over the forest. Here in the canopy, the chlorophyll in the leaves traps sunlight and combines it with carbon dioxide from the air and water to produce food in the form of sugars, a process known as photosynthesis. Most of the food for the forest is produced in the canopy.
    2. Understory: This middle layer contains plants that are not as tall as trees. In the understory, the air is damp and the light is dim because of the large leaves of the canopy.
    3. Floor: The forest floor is the lowest layer. Few plants live on the floor because of the low light condition. There are, however, many terrestrial animals that inhabit this layer.
    4. Students will understand the ways in which plants obtain nutrients. Because heavy rains often wash minerals and nutrients from the soil, some plants have roots that have been adapted to obtain nutrients from the surface of the soil. Other plants get nutrients from the water that is left on their leaves. Also, decomposers break down dead material, releasing nutrients for plants to absorb.
    5. Students will know that rainforests help humanity in many ways. A quarter of the world's medicine is derived from plants found in the rainforest. This habitat also keeps the air clean and the temperature low, produces oxygen, and prevents the Greenhouse Effect from over-heating the planet by absorbing carbon dioxide and heat.
    6. Students will realize that the rainforests are being destroyed. Many impoverished countries sell lumber from their rainforest habitat and plant crops on the cleared land. When large areas of forest are cut down, the topsoil washes away leaving hard ground in which trees cannot grow. Animals are also affected when the trees are cut. Without the forest, animals that make their homes in this habitat become extinct. It is important that we save the rainforest habitat.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Ask the class what they know or have heard about the rainforest. Make lists on the board of: locations, amounts of rainfall, and kinds of plants and animals found there. Save to compare with what is shown on the video.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. A Rainforest Collage Divide the class into three sections. Assign three areas: the canopy, the understory, and the forest floor. Have students find library books on the rainforest and place on a special table. Each group must do research in their area. Be sure there is a good writer, a good artist, and a good organizer in each group to assure good results. Have the groups determine the plants and animals likely to be in their section of the rainforest. Have each student draw a sketch of his area and let the group vote on the final selection. Select one student to draw a light sketch of the whole rainforest (treetops and trunks) on a large sheet of paper. Cut the paper into thirds and give each group their part to fill in the details. They may use felt, paper, green string (for vines), chalk, paint, tissue paper, cardboard, etc. in creating their rainforest plants and animals. Put the thirds back together to make a striking bulletin board of the rainforest, which will include a great deal of information that the students have learned through their research and the making of the rainforest collage.
    2. Make new lists on the boards to compare with the information given in the section on "Before Viewing the Video." Discuss.
    3. Rainforest Booklets: Keep the three groups formed above or regroup into new ones. Select a group for each of the following topics: What A Rainforest Gives Us, How the Rainforest Is Being Destroyed and How We Can Help Save the Rainforest. Each group makes a list of the items in their category. Each student then selects one or more items to illustrate and write a brief paragraph.

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