African Rain Forests


Click on the frog for information needed to teach African Rain Forests


Author: Jill Allard 
Grade Level: Early Elementary 

 1. Students will draw a picture and label the layers of a rain forest in Africa. 

Materials Needed: 
 1.  A map of Africa highlighting where the rain forests are located. 
 2.  Copy of "Layers in the Forests" on chart paper.  By Debby DePauw from Fun in the Rain Forest.  Evan-Moor Corp.  p. 7. 
 3.  Pictures of the rain forest.  Pictures can be found in book such as:
  Life in the Rain Forests  by Lucy Baker.  pp. 4, 8-9, 18. 
  A Walk in the Rain Forest  by Kristin Joy Pratt.  pp. 8, 10, 12, 14. 
  Explore the World of Exotic Rain Forests by Anita Ganeri.  pp. 24-45 (animals). 
  Here's the Tropical Rain Forest by Madeline Dunphy. 
  At Home in the Rain Forest by Diane Willow. 
 4.  1 piece of white construction paper for each student (9"x12") with dotted lines, dividing the paper into fourths. 

 1.  Ask students, "Have you ever been in a rain forest?"  When most students reply no, explain to them that today they will be exploring what a rain forest in Africa looks like. 
 2.  Show students map of Africa and ask them,  "What do you notice about the location of the rain forests?" 
 3.  When students reply that they are close together, explain to them that the reason for that is that rain forests need warm temperatures and lots of rain.  These are conditions you find here (point to the equator).  Inform students that the imaginary line, known as the equator, is located at the widest part of the earth between the poles. 
4.    Also point out to students that most of Africa is not a rain forest; that only one fifth of Africa is actually rain forests.  
 5.  Ask students "Are you ready to take a trip into the rain forest?"  Have students sing the song "Layers in the Forest" with you.  (Read from chart paper.) 
 6.  After repeating the song, ask students to recall what they remember about each layer.  Some questions could be:  "What is the name of the top layer?",  "What kind of trees are located in canopy?",  "What can you find on the bottom floor?"  If necessary, repeat the song until students can recognize the four layers of the rain forest. 
 7.  After students have recognized the four layers, hand out the piece of white paper so they can make a picture showing the layers of the rain forest. 
 8.  To have students make the picture of the rain forest,  discuss each layer, one at a time.  Start at the top and proceed to the bottom.  Display pictures to help students illustrate their picture.  When students are finished, have them label the top of their page "African Rain Forests."  Also have students label the name of each rain forest layer. 
 9.  Discuss each layer briefly.  The top layer, known as the emergent layer is the top of the rain forest.  You can see a few tall trees that grow higher than all others.  Have students draw a few very tall trees on their paper.  
 10. The canopy is where the trees form a roof that protects plants and animals from the wind and heavy rain.  There are many fruit trees at this level.  Have students draw several trees that are medium high.  
 11.  The next layer is the understory.  The understory is quite dark because not much sunlight comes through.  Palm trees and short trees with big leaves live at this level.  Show pictures and allow students to draw plants at this level. 
 12.  Explain that the forest floor is where small plants such as ferns live.  It is very dark at this level.  Show picture of a fern and allow students to draw this layer on their paper.
 13.  After students have finished illustrating their pictures ask them questions such as:  "Who can tell me the name of the four layers?",   "What does the forest floor look like?",  "What layer does fruit grow at?",   "What layer would you be at if you weren't protected from the rain and wind?" 

 1. Assess accuracy of pictures and picture titles.  
 2. Assess student answers at end of lesson. 


"Return to Africa Table of Contents."