Rainforest Exploration!

We love animals in our home and almost daily sing songs such as “Old McDonald Had a Farm” to show off our phenomenal animal impersonations. But something about rainforest animals especially piques my daughters’ interest: they love the shows “Dora” and “Go Diego Go!” in part because of the exotic animals that are seen in the episodes.

That may be why my children and I fall more in love with The Umbrella by Jan Brett with each reading. This is a book that we own and reread often! As a certified teacher in Spanish and Elementary Education, I am thrilled by the simple Spanish language phrases scattered throughout the text and the social studies content found in the book. The plot is wonderful and mirrors the traditional Ukranian folktale Jan Brett retells in her well-known book The Mitten (another beloved book on our shelf which I will revisit when the weather turns colder). Each time we read The Umbrella, my kids can’t wait to turn the page and see what will happen next!

As you read aloud, try to make a new voice for each rainforest animal that appears in this wonderful book!

Best Age: kindergarten – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Retell the story together as you look back at the illustrations on each page. Which animal went in the umbrella first? Which was the biggest animal to land in the umbrella?
  • Explore online with the web links below for teacher use. Ask your child which animal interested him/her most. What did you learn that was new?

For Teachers:

  • As a pre-reading class activity, check out these videos that describe the lesser-known animals in The Umbrella: a baby tapir, a kinkajou and a quetzal.
  • Allow students to explore the rainforest through the interactive children’s activities found on the Rainforest Alliance’s website.
  • Make a prediction: What do you think will happen the next time Carlos returns to the “cloud forest”?

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