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Art Projects for The Rainforest

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Kellie Hayden • updated: 9/11/2012

Many elementary curricula include objectives on the rainforest. If you teach art or you do art lesson plans in your elementary classroom, here are some ideas that go with a rainforest theme.

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    Rainforest Layers

    One objective that many students learn about the rainforest is that it has different layers or strata: forest floor, understory, canopy, and emergents. You can do some rainforest art lesson plans with this concept.

    • Ask students to paint a scene in a rainforest where all four strata are shown as well as animals and/or plants that would be found in each of these levels.
    • Students use crayons to create a scene like the one mentioned above. They color in each of the objects they drew with bold colors. Then they use black watercolor paint to paint over the pictures they colored on the forest floor and understory to show that not much light gets through to these layers. They use blue watercolor paint to paint over the pictures they colored for the canopy and emergents layers to show that these get more sunlight.
    • Students can create a 3-D rainforest scene with paper cut-outs to show the different levels of the rainforest. Some of the plants and animals the students cut out should pop out of the scene to make it 3-D. Again, in this one of the rainforest art lesson plans, students should focus on which plants and animals are found in which strata. All of these lesson plans should include art techniques as well as rainforest objectives.
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    rainforest by taunting panda Some fun rainforest art lesson plans are for students to make sculptures out of clay or paper. These sculptures should be of animals from the rainforest. Once you have shared with your students a book such as The Great Kapok Tree, they will have a lot of examples of animals that are found in a rainforest. Then, you give them a chunk of clay and let them create a 3-D sculpture of one of these animals. Depending on the kind of clay you give them, students can also paint these often colorful creatures.

    To take these rainforest art lesson plans one step further, students can create scenes in a shoebox for their clay sculptures with paper, markers, and crayons. Using these materials, students create a rainforest habitat for their clay animals, and they put plants and possibly other animals in their scenes that you would find where this animal lives in the rainforest. For example, if students sculpted a red-eyed tree frog, students could create the lower layers of the rainforest as well as a pond or river for the frog. Students might include other animals in their scene that live in this part of the rainforest in this one of the rainforest art lesson plans, but the focus would be on the red-eyed tree frog.

    If you don't have any clay available for your students, they can still create these rainforest animals and scenes using paper. You can also get creative and use paper towel or toliet paper rolls for the bodies of animals. The focus animal should be 3-D if possible.

    Have fun and learn more about the rainforest with rainforest art lesson plans!