Elementary school age programs

Earth Tones

Books To Share

  • Color Me a Rhyme: Nature Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen.
  • Earthdance by Lynn Reisser.
  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry.
  • My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch by Graeme Base.
  • One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest by Jean Craighead George.

Books To Show and Booktalk

  • Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne.
  • Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson.
  • Let's Rock!: Rock Painting for Kids by Linda Kranz.
  • The Most Beautiful Roof in the World: Exploring the Rainforest Canopy by Kathryn Lasky.
  • North Pole, South Pole by Nancy Smiler Levinson.
  • Safari Journal by Hudson Talbott.

Bulletin Board

Create a rainforest. Use dark green background paper. Add lush trees and hide some appropriate animals in the forest. As an incentive game, let the children add cutout animals as they participate in the Texas Reading Club. Use die-cut animals or visit Enchanted Learning at www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/rainforest for coloring pages to print and cut out. Butterflies, sloths, monkeys, toucans, and anacondas are just a few of the animals in the rainforest.


Ask a local toy store to provide stuffed animals, plastic snakes, and other rain forest animals for a display. Include books about the Amazon in the display.



By Jerry Wermund

(Reprinted by permission of the author.)

A temporary lake—

a playa—


leaving a veneer of

alabaster, golden, rose, and emerald salts

on the reflective floor

of its solar oven.

“Playa” is reprinted from Earthscapes: Landforms Sculpted by Water, Wind, and Ice by Austin geologist and writer Jerry Wermund. A photograph of the landform that is the subject of the poem accompanies each poem. Visit www.rockonpub.com for additional information. Provide children with photographs of volcanoes, forests, glaciers, marshland, and other geological and environmental subjects and let them write their own colorful poetry about the beautiful land in which we live.

Puppet Play

Perform the puppet show, “How the Beetle Got Her Colors,” which is provided in the “Stories, Puppet Plays, and Reader’s Theater” chapter of this manual.


Tell or read “The Victoria Regia” in Tales from the Rainforest retold by Mercedes Dorson and Jeanne Wilmot. Even in the rain forest where there is so much beauty and variety, the giant water lily is legendary. With leaves that measure six feet and seeds the size of your hand, this pink and red flower only opens after dark.


Yaysu Nee Wangu

(This Swahili folk song from Kenya and Tanzania is available on I Won’t Eat That by Willy Welch. This phonetic rendition is easy to follow.)

Yaysu nee wangu wow zee ma wah mee lay lay

Yaysu nee wangu wow zee ma wah mee lay lay

Yaysu nee wangu wow zee ma wah mee lay lay

Wow zee ma wa mee lay lay

Wow zee ma wa mee lay lay

Wow zee ma wa mee lay lay

Wow zee ma wa mee lay lay

Hey Yahway Yahway Yahway Yahway

Hey Yahway Yahway

Hey Yahway Yahway Yahway Yahway

Hey Yahway Yahway

Hey Yahway Yahway


Rain Sticks

  • Cardboard tubes from wrapping paper or mailing tubes
  • Caps for each end of the tube, or aluminum foil and rubber bands
  • Dry rice, popcorn seeds, or small beans
  • Plain paper
  • Markers, stickers, or other decorative craft materials
  • Rickrack
  • Wrapping paper

Provide each child with supplies. Ask them to decorate the tube using markers, bits of wrapping paper, stickers, rickrack, etc. The decorations are traditionally bright and reflect symbols of nature, outlines of animals, and lines or geometric shapes. Secure a cap in place over one end of the tube. Mailing tubes usually come with caps but they can also be made out of aluminum foil or cloth secured by a rubber band. Place about half a cup of rice, popcorn, or beans inside the tube. Seal the second end. Gently move the rain stick from side to side and listen to the rain. Note: For older children, or to make one for demonstration purposes, push long tacks through the tube and tape them in place. This allows the rice to fall more slowly and creates a "gentler" rain.

Australian Bark Painting

  • Brown paper bags or brown kraft paper
  • Red, yellow, black, and white crayons
  • Old pencils with erasers
  • Poster paints
  • Paint cups

The aboriginal people of Australia used plant materials, soil, and charcoal to create beautiful pictures on pieces of bark. Show the children pictures of Aboriginal art from books such as Aboriginal Art of Australia by Carol Finley or online at the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery at www.aaia.com.au or other Internet sites. Notice that the styles include "x-ray" and "dot painting" as well as circles and zigzags. Give each child a piece of brown paper. Tear the edges to resemble a slab of bark. Let each child create a bark painting of an Australian animal. They can either use crayons or dip the eraser end of an old pencil into the poster paint and press dots to create the picture.

Moroccan Good Luck Charm

  • Colored construction paper
  • Aluminum, silver, or gold foil
  • Craft glue
  • Crayons
  • Glitter glue
  • Sequins
  • Markers
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Yarn or string

Each child should trace his or her hand on a sheet of brightly colored construction paper. Cut out the shape and then decorate the hand with crayons, markers, glitter glue, sequins, or bits of cut-up aluminum or other metallic foil. Hang the charm to bring good fortune.

Scratch Paper Art

For a simple make and take project that requires minimal supervision or can be taken home if program space is limited, purchase "scratch art paper.” This special paper has colors printed under a black topcoat. When the topcoat is scratched away with a toothpick, stylus, or other blunt tipped object, the colors appear. Guildcraft Arts and Crafts (1-800-345-5563) is one supplier for sheets of scratch art paper.


Drum Beat

Provide children with various items that can serve as drums or other percussion instruments. These can be boxes, coffee cans, plastic canisters, drums, maracas, sticks, bowls, etc. Have the children sit in a circle. Play music from the Amazon while the children add percussion and drumming to the beat. If you don’t have anything else available, try the soundtrack from the movie, Ferngully or The Spirit Cries: Music Of The Rain Forests Of South America and The Caribbean.

Look around your community for a drumming group. Japanese Taiko drummers and African drummers provide exciting programs.

Guest Speakers

Invite a biologist, zoologist, wildlife conservation group, or a "discovery" store staff member to show photographs and talk about the importance of the rain forest to the world's ecology. Or, call your regional education service center, community college, or university and ask for recommendations for speakers.

Audio Recordings

  • “Columbus in the Rain Forest” on Waltzing with Fireflies by Elizabeth McMahon.
  • One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest by Jean Craighead George
  • Rainbow Serpent: Music for Didgeridoo and Percussion by David Hudson.
  • "What is a Dijeradoo" on Around the World and Back Again by Tom Chapin.


Rain Forest Feast

Mix cashews, dried banana chips, shredded coconut, carob chips, Brazil nuts, figs, popcorn, and dried citrus treats for a taste of the rain forest. Prepare this ahead of time or provide small bowls of the ingredients and allow the children to make their own mix.

Video to Show

Get to Know Lynne Cherry. (20 minutes)


  • Ana in the Rainforest. (11 minutes)
  • The Magic School Bus in the Rainforest: a Tropical Paradise Adventure. (30 minutes)
  • Rainbow Serpent. (12 minutes)

Web Sites

Arctic Theme Page

Discovery Channel Web Cams

Professional Resource

Around the World Art and Activities: Visiting the 7 Continents Through Craft Fun by Judy Press.


Texas Reading Club 2004 Programming Manual / Color Your World...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011