This summer we’re diving into the Ancient Maya and the rain forest biome. We have two friends along for the ride, the same ages as my kids (7 and 10), so it will be fun to have some extra energy around! See also our Ancient Maya Unit Plan, our Ancient Maya Book/Video List, and our Rain Forest Unit Plan.
We spent our first week reviewing biomes in general. I had a lot of biome books and wildlife atlases available for all biomes except the rain forest.
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Initially we started out with some Fishtank Learning’s 2nd Grade Exploring Habitats lessons. The spine for these lessons is Life in a Tropical Rain Forest by Kari Schuetz. The book provided a great background, along with the discussion questions provided by Fishtank.
We then dived into various rain forest topics. We had books on hand with lots of information about the animals, plants, and food webs. Here are some of our favorites.
On hand for general information we had several easy readers. We loved all three of these National Geographic books. The photos in all of them are so engaging. The kids are all strong readers so these were a good starting point before we dived into more specific topics.
Thomas Marent’s Rainforest is gorgeous! The photos in this book inspired the kids to draw plants and animals that they could then use other books or the internet for further information. After finding their picture inspiration the kids moved onto books like the First Animal Encyclopedia – Rainforests by Anita Ganeri or DK’s The Animal Book. I will say we did have a hard time finding enough depth of information on plants and animals for the kids to be satisfied.
Towards the end of our unit study we talked a lot about food chains and food webs. Plants and Planeaters fromt he Secrets of the Rainforest series was helpful, as was Food Chains by Theresa Greenaway. Hands down the best book, however was A Rain Forest Food Chain by Rebecca Hogue Wojahn and Donald Wojahn. It’s a non-fiction choose-your-own-adventure type book with tons of great photos, LOTS of information about each plant of animal in the food web, and a great explanation of food webs too. They have these books for every continent, and I know we’ll be checking more of them out.