Rainforest Elementary Lesson Plans ~ Complete Curriculum
If you are looking for Rainforest elementary lesson plans, or rather, a complete rainforest curriculum for elementary students, you might consider Rainforest Journey from EdTechLens. It offers an outstanding program on Rainforest science with a secular perspective.
What We Received
EdTechLens.com gave us one full year subscription to its Rainforest Journey course for free. That’s a $50 value! We were allowed to choose up to 3 students, but obviously since Super Hero is my only child, we chose one: Grade 5. We are now to post our complete and unbiased review.
What to Expect
Rainforest Journey is a web-based course that focuses on rainforest science. It uses truly stunning photographs, vivid short videos, short explanations, and a variety of hands-on activities. There are 5 units divided into 2 to 3 chapters each. Each unit consists of the actual lessons with optional audio readings, the vocabulary, illustrations and assessments. As a parent, you have the option to create your own classroom with many students. You may choose to have them study in an structured sequence, or leave the sequence open so each child can select any order he fancies. You may even change the name of the course if you’d rather give it your personal touch!
Each chapter includes 4 to 5 lessons. Lessons are short and concise, which is a real positive for young kids. At the end of the chapter there are vocabulary, illustrations and a variety of quizzes, as I mentioned earlier. Options for selecting all that apply, or classifying into groups by dragging and dropping give the quizzes a more dynamic feel to them, something kids likely find much more agreeable than dry worksheets.
How Did We Use It?
We are using Rainforest Journey as yet one more component to our science learning. We’ve been following it exclusively on our iPad without a glitch. Perfect for doing anytime at home or even taking along in the car or elsewhere. Super Hero loves to play the audio right away. He then listens while he observes the photographs, and many times follows along in the reading as well. He loves to play the videos too, when the lesson has one. Not all lessons have videos, unfortunately, as they are often truly spectacular, albeit ever so short. Some are just 15 to 20 seconds. He even likes the quizzes –they do indeed have a cool feel to them, but he hates the “Open Ended Assessments.” He hates them because he’s to write down long (or longer) answers. To keep the light and fun spirit of the program, I don’t require him to write anything down. We do discuss any salient points orally. It flows beautifully this way for us. I leave the writing for another time and program. Otherwise, trust me, the open ended assessment alone would slaughter Super Hero’s enthusiasm for the rainforest as surely as the sun will rise in the morning. Nevertheless, it’s good to have those questions available for me to use as a guide for our discussions if I need to.
We’ve chosen not to make Rainforest Journey a rigorous study, and that works fine for us at the moment. Yet, the program does offer the chance for a more structured approach if you so desire. The course offers thoughtful Teacher’s Guides with a well prepared outline such as the following:
- Lesson length
- Lesson overview
- Lesson objectives
- Background information
- Subject areas addressed
- NGSS standards addressed
- List of materials, including relevant books that could easily be found at the library.
I appreciate that the Teacher’s Guide includes games with all the necessary printable goodies attached in the appendices. I love games. There’s nothing quite like a good game (or even a lame one) to ignite enthusiasm and a complete willingness in Super Hero. Though it would be better to use with at least 2 or 3 of children, it’s satisfying to have them available. And besides, that gives us a fine excuse for more playdates 😉 (not that we need any excuses anyway.)
As usual with most elearning portals, the parent account has a bird’s eye view of the course with particulars and access to all materials. Though we’ve used it only in our iPad, I could print everything if I wanted to: Lessons, reviews, quizzes,
our friends the open ended assessments, reviews, hands-on activities, teacher’s guides, etc.
Other neat features are the Diary Entries and Expert Interviews. These are short and kid-friendly accounts of actual scientists who have spent time researching and living in the rainforest. (If I’m not mistaken, I believe most of them are the actual photographers and videographers, too.) Just to give you an idea, the introduction to the interview with Entomologist Phil Torres reads: “When he was just seven, Phil Torres chased a dream. He decided that he wanted to become a biologist…” Talk about grabbing a child’s attention! Can you hear her saying –or thinking: “What happened when he was just seven?” I think you would agree these make the learning experience all the more real and direct.
So, What’s Our Opinion?
Both, Super Hero and I, are enjoying this easy-going program very much. Without a doubt, the strength of this program lies on the spectacular images and vibrant videos. Although not enough of them, if you ask me. I would have loved to see many more. I understand more such videos could be a challenge, so perhaps a slide show or simply more photographs. There’s only 1 or 2 per lesson. This is especially the case when using the audio. It would be wonderful to continue to listen while still viewing the slideshow. More imagery would spice up the lesson while bringing the point home much more effectively. For example, when talking about the “arapaima gigas”, an endangered fish in the Peruvian amazon basin, there’s only one picture of the fish. The narrator explains this fish is often poached because of its tongue which contains bony scales. People use the tongue as a scraping tool. It would have been excellent to see a picture of such peculiar tongue as well.
I must say that my preference to see more beautiful photos, or better yet, videos, doesn’t diminish this program’s quality in the least. It is perhaps because the images make such an impact, that I’ve been left craving even more!
In a Nutshell
In Super Hero's Own Words
I like the audio and videos because I like to listen to the explanations and at the end there is a quiz. I like it because it’s like click and drag. I really liked this (Rainforest Journey.)
Well, that just about sums it up! What else can be better than a 10 year-old saying “I really liked this”? Totally recommended secular science program!
If You’re Interested
If you’d like to learn more about EdTechLens and the Rainforest Journey, please pay them a visit, or read more of my fellow Crew members’ reviews. There’s plenty of them for you to choose from.
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I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was i compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.