Beacon Lesson Plan Library

An Emerald Place

Martha Cordell
Bay District Schools


This lesson is designed to invite first graders to discover the four layers of the rain forest and to help them identify the life of animals at each level.


The student knows that there are many different plants and animals living in many different kinds of environments (e.g., hot, cold, wet, dry, sunny, and dark).


- Chart paper and color markers
- Books such as
THE GREAT KAPOK TREE, A tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry (School Library Binding March 1990 Harcourt Brace )
WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE by Jane Yolen (Putman Publisher Group April 1997 reprint)
- Flannel board with animals for each layer
- A variety of pictures from the rain forest
- A world map to point out the rain forests of the world


-Conduct background research on the rain forest.
-Gather materials
-Prepare vocabulary on sentence strips (i.e. Emergent, Canopy, Understory, Forest Floor.)
-Gather a variety of pictures from the rain forest.
-Obtain the necessary books
-Prepare the flannel board and animals
-Obtain a world map


1. Read a book like THE GREAT KAPOK TREE to the entire class and encourage students to discuss the animals of the rain forest found in the story.

2. After reading, review the book with the entire class pointing out the animals that take part in the story.

3. Introduce the rain forests of the world using the world map.

4. Discuss the layers of the rain forest and the climate at the various layers.

5. Show students a variety of pictures of the rain forest.

6. Introduce the flannel board that depicts the layers of the rain forest, and pass out the animals for it to the students. Let them place the animals on the correct layer.

7. Count and classify the animals by type: Bird, Reptile, Mammal, Amphibian, and Insect.

8. Have students draw their favorite animals and tell which layer they live in.

9. Read a book like WELCOME TO THE GREEN HOUSE to the entire class.

10. Have students name an animal and move around the room like the animals of the rain forest.

11. Label four areas of the room with the layers of the rain forest.

12. Have students choose the area where they would live as the animal.

13. Let students explain why they chose that animal and that area.

14. Introduce the entire class to a book like THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS VISITS THE RAIN FOREST.


This lesson only teaches and assesses part of the standard. Observe students and record as they move to the different areas of the room appropriately. Make sure they name an animal that lives in the rain forest and that they choose the appropriate layer. Offer feedback to those that are having difficulty.

- Students will name the layer in which they, as animals, live.
- Students describe each of the four layers including climate, food, space, and shelter.
- Students will correctly describe three out of the four areas.
- Students will draw and classify animals by type, placing four out of five correctly.
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