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The Rainforest is one of our favourite habitats to explore and learn about. Bean loves playing with the animals and reading books about such an interesting habitat. The rainforest is also great for teaching about food chains and camouflage.
For this particular rainforest habitat I used branches from a few small bushes and some assorted leaves. I taped them to the sides of the bin so that they stood up and left the bigger leaves at the bottom. The soil is coffee grinds and I used a small piece of foam to form a pond. I used animals from our Safari LTD Rainforest Toob and some bugs and tiny lizards (the lizards were mainly for Munchkin so he would have plenty of critters to line up, while Bean could play with the other animals).
But in this bin, he happily stomped the lizards around the rainforest. :)
Bean recently learned that centipedes are dangerous, so she kept putting him on the other side of the bin away from her. She liked pretending she was a crocodile and moved him slowly around in the pond and then gobbled up lizards that got too close.
Bean enjoyed looking at each of the different trees. We talked about the leaves and why the leaves at the bottom were bigger than the leaves at the top. In the rainforest, the bigger leaves grow at the bottom because it is harder for sunlight to reach there and they need to be big enough to absorb as much as they can. The smaller leaves grow at the top because it is much easier for them to absorb sunlight. I hid snakes and birds in the tall trees for Bean to find.
Bean and I spent about an hour talking about each of the different species that live in our rainforest. She learned a few new facts about the animals and tried to make sounds like them. Munchkin lined up some of the animals on one side of the bin. This is something he does with every activity that we do.
We talked about camouflage and Bean tried hiding all of the animals on her own. We made this a game and asked Munchkin if he could find them. He did pretty well but didn't enjoy playing for long. :)
Bean kept lifting up the big leaves and holding them above the bin, because that way they were closer to the sun and would get more energy.
She was interested in the anteater until she learned why they were named that. Then she was grossed out because they love to eat ants. So I showed her a video on google about how anteaters eat ants... All was forgiven and they were no longer gross. Because now they had cool tongues and she pretended to eat up ants with her own (plastic ants, of course).
This little spider monkey got no attention until he was discovered hanging in the trees. Then he was flown across the rainforest to live in a bigger tree. He's also quite fond of flowers. :)
One of the things we like to do with bins like this is to have books about the animals and habitat near it, so that the kids can open it up and find pictures of creatures that they are playing with. They love matching them up and get so excited when they successfully match them (Bean has more practice with this, so rarely does she incorrectly match anything). Then I read about them and ask them if they can tell me what they learned.
These are the books about the rainforest that we are currently reading. :)
Munchkin found himself lining up the leaves, and then Bean took over and arranged them by size. The ones on the left grow in the canopy where they get a lot of sunlight, and the bigger leaves on the right live at the bottom of the rainforest where they do not get a lot of sunlight.
Then we did some activities about the food chain. We made this simple diagram for Bean. She likes arranging the animals herself. We use rice to represent bacteria. :)
She also enjoyed matching the replica animals to the ones that she found on the food web in the book.
Munchkin's added some scribbles while Bean put animals where she thought they belonged.
Then she separated the animals (herbivores, carnivores and omnivores). The crease in the paper separated them. This is how she set them up.
Then we took out two sheets of construction paper to camouflage the animals. Brown represented the ground and dark areas and the green was supposed to be leaves and plants. This is how she separated them.
And just for fun, we brought out one of our felt boards and she played with the animals on it.
Please always supervise your children while playing and never leave them unattended.