What Is a Rainforest?
Rainforests are very thick, wet, warm forests. We often call them jungles. These jungles are home to:
There are more kinds of plants and animals in the rainforest than anywhere else on earth. Animals, lizards, snakes, colorful flowers, big trees, little trees, vines, ants, beautiful birds, and native children all share this jungle.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in the rainforest. What do you see in the jungle?
The Rainforest Is Home to People
The rainforest is home to native people and tribes. These natives understand the jungle. They have lived there for thousands of years without hurting the forest. They respect and love its plants and animals.
Some grow their food in small clearings. Others fish or gather their foods. Even children help by climbing trees and vines to gather fruits and nuts to eat.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. How do you share the rainforest with creatures and plants?
The Rainforest Is Home to Creatures
Monkeys, anteaters, tapirs and other animals live in the jungle. Large cats like jaguars and ocelots live there, too.
Fish swim in the waters. Beautiful birds sing in the trees.
Snakes, lizards, termites, and spiders share the jungle.
There are more ants than any other creature in the rainforest.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. Everyday you see many animals, birds, fish, and insects. What creatures share the jungle with you?
The Rainforest Is Home to Plants
Thousands of plants grow in the rainforest. Some do not even have names yet.
Many rainforest plants are colorful and pretty. Some provide food and medicines for the people and animals that live there.
Some are short; some are tall; some are vines; some are trees.
From an airplane, many jungles look like green oceans.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. You see pretty flowers everyday. What plants and flowers share the jungle with you?
What Helps the Rainforest?
All jungle creatures and plants help the rainforest.
Animals and birds help spread seeds. Insects and birds carry pollen from flower-to-flower.
Living plants are food for some animals. Dead plants are food for other plants
Trees help the air stay clean and even cause rain.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. What are other ways the creatures and plants help the rainforest where you live?
Rainforest Helps the Earth
You don’t live in the rainforest. The rainforest still helps you.
Many foods first came from the rainforest. Bananas, coffee, oranges, and corn are jungle foods.
People use jungle plants to make medicines.
Water from the jungle makes rain fall in other places, too.
Rainforests give us clean air and water.
The rainforest keeps your world healthy.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in your hometown. List other ways the rainforest helps you.
Rainforest Grows in Layers
The layers of the rainforest are:
Emergent layer is very tall trees. It is sunny and very windy here.
Canopy layer is trees and vines. Most animals and plants live here. The light is bright here.
The understory layer is darker. It has a few plants and animals.
The floor layer is dark, warm, and wet. Big animals and people live here.
The soil layer is rich soil on top of very hard clay. The rich soil is very thin.
Label the layers of the rainforest.
Rich Rainforest Soil Is Thin
Dead plants and leaves fall in the jungle. They rot on the forest floor. This makes the top dirt very rich.
The rich dirt of the rainforest is very thin. Hard soil called clay is under the rich dirt.
Plants can not grow in the clay soil.
When people cut and burn the jungle, rain washes the rich soil away.
No plants fall and rot. The rich soil is gone forever.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. Why do rotting plants make the soil rich in the jungle?
Farms in the Rainforest
The people of the jungle have very small farms. They grow many food plants on small clearings.
They rotate the small clearings. This lets the jungle grow back. The soil is rich again from rotting plants.
The small farms of the jungle people do not hurt the rainforest.
Pretend you are a kid living in the rainforest. Describe the farms of your people.
All Jungle Creatures and Plants Depend on Each Other
The plants depend on the animals. The animals depend on the plants. They both depend on man to let them live.
If one animal or plant is destroyed, many other plants and animals die.
The native people of the rainforest depend on the jungle, too. They depend on the jungle plants and animals for their food, clean air, water, and homes.
Even you depend on the rainforest for some things.
The animals and plants can not live if man destroys them.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in the rainforest. How do you depend on the plants and animals of the jungle?
Some People HARM the Rainforest to Make Money
The native people live in harmony with the jungle. They do not hurt the rainforest.
But some people do hurt the rainforest to make money.
They cut down the trees to make furniture and paper.
They burn the forest to clear the land for raising cows.
They mine for gold and drill for oil.
These people hurt the rainforest only to make money for themselves or their companies.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in the rainforest. Who is harming the jungle to make money?
Death of the Rainforest
When a tree falls or small areas of the rainforest are cleared for native farms, new plants spring up. The rainforest continues to grow.
If a lot of land is cleared for cattle ranches or large farms, the rainforest dies.
Many things happen in the jungle when the rainforest dies:
- Native kids might lose their homes. They are sad.
- The rich soil washes away. Rivers fill with mud. The soil becomes dry, cracked, and brown.
- Plants and animals die. Once one kind of plant or animal dies in the rainforest, others that depend on it die, also.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in the rainforest. What else happens to your jungle when the rainforest dies?
When the Rainforest Dies, Our Earth Hurts.
You don’t live in the rainforest. Does the death of the rainforest hurt you?
Yes, it does. When sections of the rainforest die, planet earth is injured.
Many of the medicines and foods we use today first came from the native people of the rainforest.
Over one half of all plants that live in the world today live in the rainforest. Some do not even have names yet.
As the rainforest dies, many plant types become extinct. Then you lose plants that could become new medicines and you lose new foods.
The rainforest helps you breathe. It cleans the air.
The rainforest keeps you cool. It acts as the air-conditioner of the world.
Jungle rain supplies fresh water for the world.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in your hometown. How does the death of the rainforest hurt you in other ways?
Can Kids Help Save the Rainforest?
Yes, Kids everywhere can help save the rainforest. YOU can help save the rainforest in two ways.
- Use less paper.
- Do not eat meat from cows. Meat from cows is called beef. Hamburgers, steaks, and barbecue come from beef.
Pretend you are a kid in your hometown. When do you use paper? When do you eat beef?
Use Less Paper to Help Save the Rainforest
Paper is made from the pulp of trees. If use less paper, fewer trees will be used to make paper.
Using less paper is easy.
- Use the smallest size paper you need. If you are doing your math homework, you need a standard size page. If you are writing a note, a very small piece of paper will do. Cut the paper smaller.
- Use both sides of the paper when you can.
- Recycle paper.
If your family already recycles, then it will be easy for you to recycle paper.
If your family does not recycle, ask them to consider a recycling program.
If your family does not want to recycle, you can do it alone. Save paper in a box in your room. Ask your teacher or another adult where to recycle your paper.
Pretend you are a kid who lives in your hometown. How else can you help save trees in the rainforest?
Rainforest Is Destroyed for Cattle Ranches
More of the rainforest is destroyed for cattle ranches than any other reason.
The ranchers slash and burn the rainforest to grow grass for their cows. The cows eat the grass to get fat.
Once the cows are fat, they are killed for meat. The cows are cut up into steaks and roasts. They are ground up for hamburger.
Cow meat is called beef.
The rainforest beef is sent to other countries. People eat this beef in hamburgers and other foods like hotdogs and barbecue.
Pretend you are a kid in the rainforest. Do you want the jungle destroyed to make ranches?
All Beef Looks the Same
Beef from the rainforest looks like any other beef.
It does not have a sign that says “Beef from Cows Grown in the Rainforest.”
You can not tell the difference. Your mom and dad can not tell the difference either.
No one can tell where the beef was grown.
Pretend you are a kid in your hometown. You are standing in the grocery store looking at hamburger meat. Can you tell which hamburger meat came from the rainforest?
Hamburgers Destroy Rainforest
It takes a lot of space to grow grass for a cow. A rancher must destroy a piece of the rainforest to grow grass.
Imagine a space the size of your bedroom. That same amount of space is needed to make beef for just ONE hamburger.
Think of how many hamburgers you eat. Do you eat a lot of hamburgers?
Eat Less Cow Meat and Help Save the Rainforest
Kids can help save the rainforest by eating less beef.
If you eat less beef, you can save a LOT of the rainforest.
Using less paper saves some rainforest. Eating less beef saves a lot more rainforest.
It is the best way a kid can help save the rainforest.
Pretend you are a kid in your hometown. Where do you eat beef?
What Is Beef?
Before you can stop eating beef, you have to know what it is.
You know beef is meat from a cow.
- Is a hamburger beef? Yes, but a veggie burger is not beef.
- Is a steak beef? Yes, it is.
- Is a hotdog beef? Often a hotdog contains beef. A veggie dog has no beef in it.
- Is barbecue beef? It is usually beef.
- Is tofu beef? No, it is made from soy beans.
- Are chicken strips beef? No, they are made from chicken.
- Is sausage beef? Often sausage has some beef in it. When you choose veggie sausage, you know there is no beef in it.
Pretend you are a kid in your hometown. Name the foods your family eats which have beef in them?
Rainforest Means Health
If eating less beef is hard for you, maybe it will help to remember the rainforest means health.
- A healthy rainforest means that the earth is healthier.
- If you eat less beef, the rainforest is healthier.
- If you eat less beef, the animals and kids in the rainforest are healthier.
- If you eat less beef, you are healthier.
- And if you eat less beef, you help save the rainforest.
Why are people healthier who eat less beef?