The Rainforest

About Rainforests    Jungle in the Kitchen     Rainforest Snacks    Rainforest in a Bottle


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What's So Great About Rainforests Anyway?

Lots! A tropical rainforest is a warm, thick, wet, forest that is home to amazing people and animals - like parrots, monkeys, and jaguars.

Rainforests only cover about 7% of the earth, but scientists think that over half of all the plants and animals living on our planet today, live in tropical rainforests! A single acre of tropical rainforest may support 60-70 different kinds of trees. One wildlife reserve in the Costa Rican rainforest of South America has more different kinds of birds living there than live in all of Canada, the United States, and Mexico combined!

Thousands of things we Americans use everyday come from plants and trees that grow in tropical rainforests. Do you ever think where the rubber for the tires on the school bus; the medicine you take when you are sick; the cinnamon you sprinkle on your toast; or the banana in your lunch come from? Tropical rainforests! Rainforests are filled with valuable resources that can be harvested without damaging the forest or its' trees. People who live in rainforests have been doing it for hundreds of years!

Sadly, in parts of the world where tropical rainforests are found, many people living outside the forests are very poor. Farmers destroy forests to plant food crops to sell, so they can feed their families. Ranchers destroy forests to make grazing land for the cattle they raise, for food and leather, so they can feed their families. Loggers destroy forests by collecting beautiful woods, to sell to others who make furniture, to make money to feed their families. Scientists and other people who are worried about the future of rainforests, are finding ways to help these people earn money to feed their families without destroying rainforests.

This type of destruction of rainforests is called deforestation. When deforestation occurs, the plants and animals that once lived in the rainforest may become vulnerable, threatened, endangered, or even extinct! Deforestation may also cause the weather all over the world to change! This is called global warming or the green house effect.

In order for us to save our planet's rainforests, we need to: conserve our resources; be careful what we buy; and tell other people what we know about rainforests. Once they learn what great places rainforests are, they'll want to do what they can to save them too!

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 Is there a Jungle in your Kitchen?

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Many people are surprised to learn how many food items we use today that originally come form rainforests. With an adults permission or assistance check your kitchen at home to see how many of the following items you have. Check them off as you go.

Fruits & Vegetables

Spices & Flavors Other Foods
Avocado ___ Allspice ___ Brazil nuts ___
Banana ___ Blackpepper ___ Cashew nuts ___
Grapefruit ___ Cardamon ___ Chicle (gum) ___
Guava   ___ Cayenne ___ Coconut ___
Heart of palm ___ Chili pepper ___ Coconut oil ___
Lemon ___ Chocolate ___ Coffee ___
Lime ___ Cinnamon ___ Cola ___
Mango    ___ Cloves ___ Lime oil ___
Orange ___ Ginger ___ Macadamia ___
Papaya ___ Mace     ___ Palm oil ___
Passion fruit ___ Nutmeg ___ Tapioca  ___
Peppers ___ Paprika ___ Tea ___
Pineapple ___ Turmeric ___
Plantain ___ Vanilla ___
Tangerine ___

                                                    
How many of the items listed above did you find in your kitchen at home?

Are you surprised at how many items in your kitchen come from rainforests?

 

What is your favorite way to eat three of the items?

1.

2.

3.

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Rainforest Snacks

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Make these recipes and enjoy them at home or
make some at school to enjoy a rainforest feast!

Rainforest Mix     Jungle Punch      Spice Cookies


Rainforest Mix

1 cup of banana chips
1 cup of cashew nuts
1 cup of dried pineapple chunks
1 cup of coconut flakes
1 cup of chocolate chips

Combined ingredients in a large mixing bowl. You may wish to also add brazil nuts, dried papaya, and macadamia nuts if you can find them.


Jungle Punch

1 banana
1 can of lemon-lime soda
1 cup of orange juice
1 pint of lime sherbet
1 cup of pineapple juice

Puree a soft, ripe banana in the blender. Add orange & pineapple juices and blend together. Add lemon-lime soda and mix well. Put a spoonful of lime sherbet in each cup and fill with punch. Makes about 1 quart.


Spice Cookies

1 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

Heat oven to 375 . Mix sugar, shortening, and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients. Shape the dough into one inch balls. Place about two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Using a fork, flatten dough slightly with a criss-cross pattern. Bake 10 - 12 mins. Makes about 4 dozen.

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Rainforest in a Bottle
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Rainforests regulate the dispersal of water on earth. They soak up the moisture from the rain and release it into the air as clouds. The clouds then travel hundreds of miles to release the water (as raindrops) to drier areas.

Materials: a two-liter plastic bottle, scissors, plastic wrap, gravel, charcoal (as sold for use in fish tank filters), potting soil, and small tropical plants such as philodendron, prayer plants, fittonia, artillery plants, etc.(purchased at a nursery, florist, or variety store).

1. Remove label & black plastic bottom from bottle. Rinse bottle well with warm water.

2. An adult should cut the top off the bottle where it begins to curve.

3. Line detached plastic bottom with plastic wrap folded several times over.

4. Spread about 1 inch of gravel over plastic wrap. Spread a thin layer of charcoal over the gravel and fill with potting soil.

5. Dig a little whole in the soil for each of the plants to be planted (two is fine). Carefully remove the plants from their containers, place them in the holes and press lightly.

6. Water the plants with about 1/3 cup of water. Invert and place the plastic cover over the plants forming a dome. The terrarium should be placed in a spot with a lot of indirect sunlight it should not be directly in the sun.

Watch your miniature rainforest to see the water released from the plants form droplets on the inside of the dome. The droplets will rain down and continuously water the plants. Since the terrarium is not air-tight you will need to add water to the soil every couple of weeks.

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