Thursday, December 1, 2016

Unit Overview

Unit Topic - South America Tropical Rain Forest Grade - 5th

1) Essential Question:

What is South America and how does the tropical rainforest impact its environment?

2) Content Knowledge:

Before reading more information about the South America Tropical Rainforest in my sources, I already had a little bit of background knowledge about this topic from experiencing it personally on family vacations.  My family and I have visited Costa Rica in Central America, a few islands around Central America and various islands in and around the Virgin Islands.  Even though these places are not located specifically in South America, it has helped me to understand a deeper about the culture and people of South America, the climates, plants, and the animals that I will focusing on in my unit.  During those vacations, we have taken various excursions through rainforests, observing such things as sloths, crocodiles, different insects, snakes, monkeys, plants and waterfalls. All of these experiences have increased my knowledge about what might be found in South American Tropical Rainforests.  
After reading more information about the South America Tropical Rainforest, I have learned a great deal more than what I already knew and found some critical topics that I would like to teach the children in the various lessons that will be taught throughout my unit.  
In the first lesson, I would like to start by introducing the students to South America and by having them learn about its geography.  For example, they would learn what South America is as a whole, where it is on a map, the different countries that make up this continent, and some of the main landforms that this continent is famous for, such as the Amazon.  During this lesson, I would also like to teach them about the culture South America.  This would include a brief summary of the history of this continent, the languages, the clothing, the food, and the art forms such as dance, art, and music.  
In the second lesson, I would like to introduce the students to rainforest in general.  They would learn what rainforest is, where rainforests are located all around the world, the different layers that make up the rainforest and some background information about the environments of each layer, including the animals and plants.  
In the third lesson, I would like to focus in more on the types of animals that live in the South America Tropical Rainforest in particular and the different types of environments they need to survive.  Through the readings I found, I learned a lot about the types of animals that live in the rainforest, many of which I have not seen myself, and how each layer of the rainforest hold different species of animals.  Each animal is different and each one can only survive in certain layers.  I would really like to teach my students about that and incorporate this knowledge into the last lesson, which will also include art.  
In the fourth lesson, I would like to focus in on the plants found in the South America and it’s Tropical Rainforest.  I learned though my readings that there are a lot of different zones of the South America such as the Caribbean, the Amazon, the savannah, temperate regions, the Mediterranean region, temperate grasslands and the desert.  Each of these zones includes different types of plants.
In the fifth lesson, I would like to make this an art project.  From my readings, I found a blog that showed a project about a rainforest.  As a class, the teacher and students made a replica of a rainforest.  This included each layer of the rainforest and the animals and plants that lived on each section.  However, instead of doing this as a class activity, I thought I could have each student choose his or her favorite layer and create a Rainforest shoebox.  I would have materials in class for the students to use during art time and they could create a shoebox replica of their favorite South American Rainforest layer, including the animals, plants, and landforms that are from that layer.  They would also include a little written excerpt about why they chose that layer.  Once they are finished their projects, each student will get a chance to present it to the class and then they will be displayed around the classroom for a period of time.  I am really excited for this lesson, because I really enjoyed researching and learning about the different layers of the rainforest and the animals and plants that lived in each layer.  I would love to share this knowledge with the students and hope they would have as much enthusiasm about it as well.  

3) Rationale 

I believe that it is very important for students to learn about the South America Tropical Rainforest.  I believe that it is very important to learn about geography and all parts of the world, like North America, the African Safari, Europe, Asia, Antarctica, etc.  However, I have chosen to narrow in on the South America Tropical Rainforest because I have visited a few rainforests and little islands close to South America and it is something I am very interested in myself.  It is an important part of our world and I have some personal knowledge about rainforests that I can share with the students.  Since I, personally, have experienced what it is like in rainforests similar to that of South America and am passionate about it, it will be extremely fun to teach the students. They deserve to have the teacher also be enthusiastic about what they are learning.  If the teacher is not enthusiastic about the topic, then the students might not be as engaged as they could be.  
I also believe that it is important for students to learn about the South America Tropical Rainforest because it is a huge part of our world and, without it, the world would not be the same.  There are different cultures, languages, and people who live there and, without them, the world would be so different.  There are tons of different animals, plants, and environments that are in the South America Tropical Rainforest that you cannot find in America or in other countries; therefore, I believe that it is important for the students to eventually learn about every part of the world.   And who knows!  They might wind up falling in love with that part of the world and doing some type of work there someday!  The world is their oyster and they deserve to be well educated in every aspect of it. 

4) Resources:

Resources for myself: 


     On this webpage, it presents an article describing the traditional types of food found in South America.  It does not cover every single food, considering there are many different families and backgrounds gathered there, however, it highlights the main foods that South America is known for and what the most common foods are.  The author gives a detailed excerpt about each food listen in the article to let the reader know general information about the food itself and how it relates to the culture.  This articles also provides numerous pictures, visually showing the reader the different types of food found in this culture and what they might look like in different places.  


     Natalie's blog offers great suggestions for many different aspects that go into creating great classroom set ups and lessons.  In this particular link, Natalie gives a great example of how to incorporate the rainforest into an art lesson.  She gives examples of books to use, worksheets to hand out, and class projects to work on.  This reference also includes many pictures as a reference for how to perform a project. 

     Maps of the World is a great site which provides information for anywhere in the world that one might be interested in learning about.  In this case, it provides a lot of information about South America such as its art, culture, music, people, and much more.  It not only gives an overview about certain continents, but also focuses in on any particular country in the world.  


     Credo provides this article that explains each region in South America.  It touches on each different land type such as the Caribbean, the Amazon, the Savannah, Dessert, Grasslands and much more.  It also provides information about the climates of those regions and the plants that they might consist of.  While it might not be too detailed, it provides enough information about the South America land types to fulfill one's overall interest in the topic.


     In this webpage, Credo provides a more detailed article about the land types and land forms in South America.  It includes both simple and detailed pictures describing the types of land on the premises.  This article mainly gives a lot of information about the Andes, the Amazon River, Patagonia, and the Pampas while providing details about the climates, elevations, and size.  It gives this information in writing, while also providing pictures to make it more accessible to all people with different learning styles. 


     This Credo article focuses on the geographical aspect of South America.  The author writes it as if describing a map of South America.  It briefly talks about the oceans that surround the continent, its coastline, the square mileage of the continent, its rivers and other land types, and much more.


     The world atlas provides information about South America's mountain ranges.  It goes through each mountain ranges giving a little excerpt about each one.  It provides information about the elevations, the locations within the whole continent, and the overall size of the range.  Each of these excerpts also provide a word that links you to another site with more information about the subjects.


     WWF Global gives an extremely informational article about the specific plants in the Amazon.  It gives an overview of the environment in the rainforest, specifically focusing on the plants ecosystem.  Then it goes into a detailed section focusing on just a few of the main plants or trees found in the rainforest.  The author gives detailed information also followed by a few pictures off to the side so that visual learners can learn to the best of their ability as well.

Resource books for the students:

1. The Place is High by Vicki Cobb and Barbara Lavallee

     In this book, Barbara Lavallee focuses on the Andes Mountains.  She goes in detail about what it is like to live in this part of the world and in such a high elevation.  She focuses on topics such a culture, climate, and history in the Andes Mountains.  It is a very informational book that has a lot of words while also providing pictures for the children who might not learn just by reading paragraphs.

2. Amazonia : Indigenous Tales from Brazil by Daniel Munduruku, Jane Springer, and Nikolai Poppy

     Daniel, Jane, and Nikolai created this book which seems both fictional and non-fictional.  This book provides children with folk tales about the Brazilian Amazonian Rainforest.  In the book, some of main characters are both real animals really might be found in the Amazonian Rainforest, such as tigers and serpents, and also fictional animals or characters, such as mermaids and witches.  It is a great book for children to learn about storytelling while also having a general understanding about the rainforest. 

3. Up and Down the Andes : A Peruvian Festival Tale by Laurie Krebs and Aureila Fronty

     In this book, Laurie and Aureila provide the history of Peru, the Andes and the festivals that take place in Peru.  Through this book, the children will learn all about South America and the amazing things that happen within its culture and people.  From the history of the culture to Machu Picchu and the Andes, the authors created this informational children's book for all to enjoy and learn something new. 

4. How Iwariwa the Cayman Learned to Share by George Crespo

     Through this book, George creates a fictional story that also has some real concepts or characteristics in it for the children to learn.  This is a fun but detailed and informational story about a magical Cayman who does not share his resources with the other animals.  However, all animals and species need to work together to create the habitat and ecosystem they live in.  George created this book that teaches the children about teamwork and learning to share with others while also giving information about the particular animals living in the rainforest. 

5. Moon Was Tired of Walking on Air by Natalia Maree Belting and Will Hillenbrand

     Natalia and Will created this book filled with myths from another culture, specifically about Native Americans.  These fourteen myths are short but easily describe a different lifestyle completely different than modern day lifestyles.  The authors also provided illustrations to help give a visual to help better describe what these other cultures might have thought about.  

 6.  The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry

     This book that Lynne Cherry created is great for both its informational standpoint and its artistic standpoint.  First, Lynne creates a storyline of a man trying to chop down a great kapok tree, then the other animals try to let him know about the importance of trees and plants and how they help things grow.  It brings out all of the hidden animals that lie within the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil.  It is also a great book because of Lynne's watercolored paintings that fill the pages with color.  This is a fantastic book to teach children about the importance of plants and animals in the rainforest.

7.   Nature's Green Umbrella by Gail Gibbons

     Gail created this great children's book that goes in depth about the rainforest and all that it entails.  She uses her illustrations and words to describe the animals, plants, and ecosystems that strive in this type of setting and environment.  Gail also talks a little about the geography of the Amazon rainforest, providing pictures and illustrations of maps of the rainforest.  This is a great book to introduce children into the topic of the rainforest.

5) Conceptual Web of Ideas:

South America Tropical Rainforest
ground plants
water falls

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