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Teaching How Rainforest Products Sustain Us

written by: Tracey Bleakley • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 2/14/2012

Coffee, ginger, chocolate, bananas, medicines... and so much more comes from the rainforest, which is a lesson that students can relate to.

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    What Comes From the Rainforest? Lesson Plan

    Start this engaging lesson by planning a learning center to show students just how many products in our lives are from the rainforests.


    A variety of items or pictures of items that are made from materials found in the rainforests

    • House plants - African violets, orchids, philodendron, bromeliads
    • Chewing gum
    • Rubber products - balloons, latex gloves, rubber bands, tires, erasers, balls
    • Copal - paints, varnishes, printing ink
    • Jute - rope, burlap
    • Bamboo - baskets, pictures of bamboo furniture
    • Oils - coconut, camphor, eucalyptus, palm - found in products like suntan lotions, shampoo, candles, cough drops and soap

    Science notebooks

    Pencils, crayons


    Display the items that you have collected on several tables and show them to the students. Ask if anyone knows what they all have in common. Discuss how all of the items are made from materials that are found in the rainforests. Choose a few of the materials that come from rainforests and ask the students which items they think are made from them. Discuss the different items. You might tell them that rubber originates in the rainforests and then have the students tell which items they think are made from rubber. Can they think of others that you don't have displayed?

    After you have discussed several of the items, give the students a chance to walk around and look at them up close. Have them draw and write about several items in their science notebooks.


    Ask the students to write about three items that come from the rainforests.


    Send home a checklist of items that come form the rain forests. Have the students looks around their homes and see how many they can find. Leave a place for them to add any other items they think might be made from rainforest materials. Share and discuss the checklists the following day.

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    Yummy Rainforest Foods Lesson

    Let your students sample some of the foods and spices that come from the rainforests. Be sure to check for food allergies before the students taste any foods.


    A variety of foods and spices from the rainforests for tasting and smelling

    • fruits - avocado, coconut, pineapple, grapefruit, guava, banana, mango
    • nuts - Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts
    • chocolate
    • coffee
    • cola
    • sugar
    • tapioca
    • sweet potato
    • spices - allspice, cardamom, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, vanilla

    Paper plates, napkins

    Index cards


    Paper and pencils


    1. Cut up foods into bite sized pieces and arrange on paper plates. Set up four stations each with two foods to taste and two spices to smell. Write the names of the foods and spices on index cards and set them up at the stations.
    2. Give each student a piece of paper and a pencil and have them fold it into four sections. Then divide each section in two.
    3. Tell them that at eat station they will taste foods from the rainforest and smell two spices. On their papers they need to record they items at each station and whether or not they liked the smell or taste. A smiley face or sad face is an easy way to do this.
    4. Have all of the rotate from station to station until they have been to each one.
    5. When they have finished discussed the different foods and spices and which ones they liked or didn't like.
    6. Make a class graph of their favorites.


    Have the students list several foods and spices that come from the rainforests in their science notebooks.


    Bring in shredded coconut, dried bananas or pineapple, chocolate chips and cashews and let the students make their own rainforest trail mix for a special snack.

    Your students will have fun learning about the products and foods we get from the rainforests with these hand-on lesson plans.


  • Teaching experience.

A Rainforest Thematic Unit

Use these lessons to plan a rainforest thematic unit. These plans are appropriate for first and second grade students. You'll find lessons on the plants and animals of the rainforest, rainforest layers and locations, and rainforest resources, as well as books to use during your unit.
  1. An Introduction to a Rainforest Theme with Two Starter Lessons
  2. The Layers of the Tropical Rainforest Lesson Plan
  3. The Great Kapok Tree: A Rainforest Lesson
  4. Teaching How Rainforest Products Sustain Us
  5. Great Books for a Rainforest Unit