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Lessons from the Forest

Let us bring the Rainforest to you.

We know educators are working around the clock to engage their students in new ways while trying to keep up with ever-changing educational standards and objectives.  Our lessons were created by seasoned science teachers and rainforest experts to give your students hands-on STEM lessons that clearly state the NGSS objectives.  These lessons aren't just for in-classroom learning! They can also be utilized by community groups, camps, homeschoolers, and more. 

Use the module below to contact our Education & Outreach Director at to reserve your spot. 

Please allow at least two to three weeks to arrange your booking in order to ensure availability. 

By booking with Friends of the Rainforest, you are confirming that you have read and agree to our policy for hosting an educational lesson.

Butterfly Bonanza!

Lesson Summary: After brainstorming what students already know about tropical rainforests and butterflies, we dive into the vast and diverse world of rainforest butterflies. Students learn that each species of butterfly must lay their eggs on the leaves of a particular plant species, or host plant, to ensure the survival of their babies. Students become lepidopterists (butterfly scientists) as they practice identifying leaves of host plants to several rainforest butterflies the way a butterfly does - with their sense of touch! This interactive, tactile activity requires students to work in teams and strategize how to match each butterfly to their leaf using only their sense of touch. Afterward, students learn about a couple other adaptations, like the Blue Morpho’s leaf-like undersides of their wings, and the glasswing butterfly’s clear wings. Students end the lesson by creating their own glasswing butterfly rings to take home. 


Adaptable for students in 1st - 5th grade, and pairs well with Missouri’s butterfly unit in second grade. 

Suggested pre-work: butterfly life cycle, parts of a butterfly.

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson.

Guess Who:
An animal identification adventure

Lesson Summary: Using descriptive clues, students engage in a whole-group, trivia-style game to match the descriptions to the corresponding stuffed animal toys. Students then become "animal experts" and complete their own field guide pages and teach the class about their animal describing its adaptations, habitat, and diet. 


Adaptable for students: Kindergarten – 5th grade.

Suggested pre-work: review biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson. 

Rainforest Bird Beaks

Lesson Summary: This lesson is specifically designed with rainforest birds in mind.  After an introduction of birds, various beak shapes, and preferred food, an adult leader  demonstrates how one of our model bird beaks would (or would not) work for the model bird food on their plate.  As a large group, students discuss the difference in difference in beaks and predict their function. Students then "become" different birds, using different "beaks" to try to pick up various rainforest "foods".  They would then theorize why beaks were formed as they were for that animal and why that is significant.  Students can design their own bird with a unique beak and would then justify what it would eat and how.  This lesson includes some very fun and silly bird costumes for kids and adults to wear!


Adaptable for students: Pre-Kindergarten – 4th grade.

Suggested pre-work: review biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests, bird life cycle, define migration

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson.

Rainforest Robots:

Into the Wild

coming soon

Lesson Summary: Using our basic “Botley” coding robots, students will learn to program their team’s robot to collect samples deep within the Rainforest.  They’ll use their bodies to mimic the robot’s movements, then will make a plan for him to follow.  After which, they then take on the role of Robot Zoologist.  As a small group, they would then take on real life challenges, such as: collecting feathers of new species, collecting fecal samples from sick sloths, or collecting prints of a reported jaguar in a remote part of the rainforest.  They will successfully (or unsuccessfully) program their Botley to avoid a danger area, get him to the collection zone, and then back to the field guide station.


Adaptable for students: Kindergarten - 4th grade

Suggested pre-work: review biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson.

Wildlife Corridors Simulation

coming soon

 Lesson Summary: Using a Wildlife Corridor Simulator, students working within groups of four will take on the rolls of accountant, building supply manager, engineer, and zoologist.  Within each small group, students will use deductive reasoning skills and the engineering design process to: define and analyze a real world problem by identifying the criteria and constraints within it, plan solutions to solve the problem within a budget, make and test a model of their plan by building rainforest corridors to safely enable animal movement patterns to occur, reflect and redesign before they present their model, and make claims that are supported by evidence. Students will then use test results and feedback from classmates to optimize their design.  


Adaptable for students: 5th grade through High School

Suggested pre-work: review biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson.

Rainforest Plant Adaptations

Lesson Summary: This lesson builds on whatever prior knowledge students have on how plants survive in different climates and environments before focusing in on how plants in the rainforest have adapted to overcome challenges like heavy rain, thin soil, and fierce competition for sunlight. In a hands-on station rotation activity, groups of students work together to build model plants to meet a specific need or challenge. They can test how their design responds to rain and test the stability of root structures, and then see real-life examples of how rainforest plants respond to that challenge.


Adaptable for grades 4-6.

Suggested pre-work: review biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests

Click here to see the Next Generation Science Standards covered in this lesson.

Ants, Sloths & Monkeys

Lesson Summary: This lesson is a highly-customizable,  active, hands-on introduction to some of the most iconic rainforest animals. Students will learn about the biodiversity of rainforests, rainforest layers, and the habitat and diet needs of several animals with stuffed animal toys and a large storyboard.  Then, students are invited to move like "their" animal in an animal parade! The lesson ends in a read-aloud and stamp craft, or an interactive felt storyboard written by Friends of the Rainforest founder Rachel Crandell.

Adaptable for students: PreK- 1st grade

Suggested pre-work: continents, biomes, explore photos or videos of tropical rainforests

south america box lesson_edited_edited.p

South American Indigenous Art, Tools & Curios

Lesson Summary: This boxed kit includes 20+ pieces of South American Indigenous art and tools. Collected by Friends of the Rainforest founder Rachel Crandell, the items in this box represent artisan work from Indigenous nations across the continent of South America, with a concentration of items from the Amazon region. Students will learn about traditional blow gun hunting and build model blow guns, and study the artistry of beadwork, instruments, and curios alongside the geography of South America. Designed with Montessori classrooms in mind, this dynamic box can be used by individual students, small groups, as well as whole classrooms. This is a Friends of the Rainforest instructor facilitated version of the boxed lesson kit. Lesson content will be selected from the boxed lesson curriculum by the classroom teacher. 

Adaptable for students: grades 3 - 6

Suggested pre-work: varies depending on content areas of the curriculum to be covered in the classroom visit

Friends of the Rainforest is an international organization that engages in environmental education and justice work in and around St. Louis, Missouri, the “traditional, ancestral land of the Osage Nation. The process of knowing and acknowledging the land we stand on is a way of honoring and expressing gratitude for the ancestral Osage people who were on this land before us” and recognizes those that are still here.

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