Be sure to visit our Partners page to learn about the kinds of research, conservation, and educations programs underway in the forests of the upper Amazon Basin and transitional slopes of the Andes. These organizations are supportive of the Amazon Headwaters project and deserve your attention.
Rainforest Curriculum… Just for Starters
What Have You Got to Lose? New World Tropical Rainforests
Published by Stanford University’s Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE).
This is my favorite curriculum supplement for grades 4 to adult to provide accurate and culturally-responsive classroom activities related to rainforest lifestyles and conservation. The author’s superb utilization of role-playing and dilemma situations makes for a great attention-grabber that all ages will find enjoyment in.
The lessons have been arranged in a scope and sequence that full-time teachers will appreciate. The first four lessons acquaint the student with how a tropical rainforest feels, looks and grows. Lessons Five, Six and Seven provide a brief look at indigenous peoples in New World rainforests. The activities from these lessons are based on the activities of small human groups that inhabit the forests of Central and South America.
Going…Going…Gone?: Tropical Rainforests—How They Work, What They Do for Us, What’s Being Done to Them…
Published by the Smithsonian Institution, Education Division
This publication on the importance of tropical rainforests is an oldie, but a goodie, and downloadable here at the Smithsonian’s education website. A keyword search by “rainforest” will lead to other rainforest-themed activity guides and other materials produced by the Smithsonian.
A Neotropical Companion
Second edition by John Kricher with a foreword by Mark Plotkin
I highly recommend this book as a broad introduction to the ecology of the new-world tropical rainforests. This enjoyable book presents a great plethora of information that will be useful to know prior to presenting an instructional unit or visit to the rainforest. In addition, it contains a very well-done index! Please keep in mind, this is a general text and not a field guide. The last chapter, entitled “Deforestation and Conservation of Diversity,” is an excellent primer on some of the ongoing threats to tropical and old-growth forests on all continents.
Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America
by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata
One review states that “…Miyata and Forsyth write a masterpiece that will make the reader feel smarter after reading it.” This text contains seventeen chapters covering diverse and charismatic topics of the rainforest such as mimicry, camouflage, how trees find sunlight amid the crowded forest, etc. One section even gives helpful advice on how to hike in the rainforest. A bit more technical than Kricher and Plotins book, it is still in print and very popular 25 years after its first publication.
Culture Shock! Ecuador: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette
by Nicholas Crowder
This book joins a new series that prepare tourists for intercultural relations abroad. The author, Nicholas Crowder, lived in Ecuador for over 20 years which allows for educational discussion about specific customs, cultural expectations and etiquette which will help tourists to transition into the Ecuadorian lifestyle. If you’d like to address acculturation, cultural clashes and cultural responsiveness within a unit on multicultural education, this book will provoke interesting conversation in the classroom.
Our Tropical Garden
by Bruce Farnsworth
You may be looking for an introduction to the tropical rainforest. For an overview of some of the more iconic elements of Amazon natural and cultural history, view Our Tropical Garden (3.2Mb), a guide to the cultural values of local flora which I wrote as the Coordinator of Interpretation at the Center for the Interpretation of Amazonian Ecuador. The publication was funded by the United Nations Children’s Education Fund. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.