Enter the Rainforest
Denizens of the Rainforest Floor
Today, you'll want to put your rainboots on and grab your flashlight! We're delving deep into the dark, damp layers of the rainforest floor and understory, where sunlight is limited and rain is plentiful. We'll learn about (and avoid running into!) an animal that's as tiny as a bottle cap but powerful enough to kill 10 humans, spiders big enough to eat birds, and a lot more. We'll also work alongside the local Ba'aka people, helping them track and protect gorillas in the Congo!
what you’ll need
- A computer, tablet, or mobile phone and access to the internet
- Pens, crayons, markers, or colored pencils
- Paper (large, A4 size if possible)
- A paper plate (optional)
Ask About Today
What rainforest products did you find in our home? What layer of the rainforest would they be found in?
Imagine having the poison of a dart frog, but rather than kill, a dose of it could change something about a person. What would your "poison" do?
Skip the Ads
Unfortunately, online videos often start with short advertisements. Remind your campers to click the "Skip" button as soon as they can to move ahead to the video.
Start with these short videos to get a feel for the different animals that live in the forest floor and understory.
This goliath bird-eating spider is a predator to many insects and small animals on the forest floor. But it also has predators of its own!
Remember: Online videos often start with advertisements. (Annoying, we agree!) Click the "Skip" button as soon as you can to move ahead to the video.
Poison Dart Frogs
Meet the poison dart frog: Tiny, colorful, and one of the most toxic animals on earth.
Follow the Jaguar's Path
When night falls, these stealthy cats prowl the rainforest floor. Learn all about them, and how scientists are working to protect their future.
Gorillas Don't Want to Grow Up
In this video from BBC Earth, you'll learn about silverback gorillas and meet one teenage gorilla who still can't resist playing with his younger siblings.
Check out this beautiful video from National Geographic to get a quick refresher on rainforests and why they're so important to protect.
Grab some paper and drawing utensils. Today we'll be following along with this father-son and -daughter duo as they teach us how to draw some awesome rainforest animals and make an origami snake.
Draw a Jaguar
Fun fact: While you may think of jaguars padding softly through the shadows of the forest floor, they are also excellent swimmers who hunt fish, turtles, and even caimans—a type of crocodile.
Draw a Tarantula
The goliath bird-eating spider is the largest tarantula in the world. Not even a jaguar would want to tangle with one of these.
Fold Up a Boa Constrictor
Done drawing? Try your hand at making one of the rainforest's many snakes—out of paper!
Get to Know the Gorillas
Tracking Gorillas with the Ba'aka
The local Ba'aka people in the Congo basin want to help protect the gorillas and their environment. Learn how they track gorillas in the rainforest, and what special skill is needed to help find them.
Wait, That's Not a Vine
Meet the python, a snake that's equally at home on the rainforest floor as in the understory or canopy layers above, and can grow to be more than 30 feet long. Learn more about it and its special heat-sensing superpowers with the San Diego Zoo.
For younger explorers
Meet toucans, tapirs, and more incredible creatures in this read-along of the book Amazing Animals: Rainforest Adventure.
Imagine this: You were chosen by the local Ba'aka people to be a part of their conservation efforts to track gorillas. It's time to test your listening skills.
Listening Like the Ba'aka
Click the button and listen to the sounds of the rainforest for 1 -2 minutes. Write down all the different sounds you hear!
Test your skills in the real outdoors! You'll need a pencil, a piece of paper, and a parent's permission.
1) To start, mark the center of a piece of paper with an X.
2) Then, go stand outside in your backyard or nearby park and close your eyes.
3) When you hear a sound, make a mark on your paper that shows the sound's direction and distance from you. For example, a wavy line could represent a gust of wind, a musical note could indicate a bird, a smiley face could be someone talking. How many sounds can you capture?
This is the big test! Get a parent or guardian, sibling or friend to help.
1) Close your eyes and stand in the middle of a room or outside
2) Have your helper quietly snap/clap and move at the same time
3) Can you locate where they are? How about where they're going?
Play the Snake Game with Google
You're a snake. It's time to eat. Just watch out for the walls!
For younger explorers
Guess the Animal
Listen to the sounds and try to guess the animal, featuring some animals you already know and some you probably don't!
Rainforest Treasure Hunt
There's a rainforest in your house! (Well, kinda). Use this checklist and walk around your home to see for yourself what products you use from the rainforest, everyday. Try and keep track of things you use on a daily basis.
more to explore
Let's find some more rainforest rocks to look under.
Watch how this army of ants works together and moves through the jungle. They may be small (and blind!) but we wouldn't mess with them.
Note: This video features a LOT of up-close ants and bugs eating other bugs. If that kind of thing gives you the creeps, you might want to skip it.
Treefrogs in Focus
Get to know the red-eyed tree frog better in this article from National Geographic Kids.
Not So Special: Rainforest Soil
You might think that rainforest soil would be extra-rich and great for growing things, right? Well, not so much.