It's a Jungle in Here!

We have been studying the African jungle and having so much fun as well as learning awesome facts about this wonderful continent! It has been so rewarding to hear my students say things like "This African animal lives in the rainforest, so it can't live with that animal because it lives in the grasslands." They have been able to tell me how many continents we have on the Earth and that different habitats support different kinds of life! Woo hoo! I feel like shouting "Score!"

So here is what we have been doing (and will continue doing through next week)....... Warning.... this is a long post with A LOT of pictures!

First, we started our African Jungle book. I imported the PDF onto my Promethean board and used this as a preview to the unit. We looked at our wall map and globe to locate Africa and then found Africa on the page included in our book. We discussed the different kinds of habitats found in Africa and talked about how the animals that live in the African rainforest are different from the ones that live the Amazon rainforest. We talked about how many of the animals that we see in the zoo are located in the grasslands of Africa. We also will talk about the Nile River and the desert, but do not get as heavily into that as we do the the rainforest and the grasslands. (A preview of the book is found at the end of this post.)

Here are some pictures of our classroom environment:

One HUGE project that I do with kinders is a paper mache animal report. Each child picks an an African animal that they wish to be the "Animal Expert" on and then find out simple information about their animal. They record their findings on a report sheet and draw a picture of their animal.

  I make a newspaper shape of their animal and then they use paper mache to decorate it. Now, before anyone says "This is not art when the teacher makes the shape", you are absolutely correct! I do not consider this activity an Art project. Instead, it is science and research. I tell my kiddos that this is like when they go to a "Paint Your Own Pottery" shop. They pick out a form and then paint it. Having a 3D representation of their animal cements the animal facts in their brain.

Here is a picture of what the animals look like before paper mache. I use newspaper and masking tape to form the shapes. The legs on the elephant are TP rolls. I use paper towel tubes for the giraffe legs.

I could not do this project without the help of my wonderful parent volunteers! They come in dressed for "messy" and help my kinders create their animal. First the cover the ENTIRE animal with white paper towel and art paste.
When the entire animal is covered with the paper towel and paste, the children take NON-BLEEDING tissue paper to give their animal color. This is SOOOO much better than waiting for the animal to dry and then painting it! All the mess is finished in one step!

The zebra and leopard paper is just party bag paper that you find at the Party store. It does take a bit of time to organize the tissue paper for each child. I ask each child what colors they need for their animal a day or two ahead of the activity. Then I cut their tissue paper into little squares and put inside a Ziploc bag with their name on the outside.

It takes a day or two for the animals to dry and then we add details such as eyes and a nose to the animals with tacky glue. I use this activity to teach the children the characteristics of the different animal classes, so they add feathers to the birds, small pieces of fake fur to the mammals, buttons or sequins to the reptiles, and so on......

We also read stories about the people of Africa and compare and contrast our differences. We look at traditional African clothing and masks and then the children create an African child wearing an African mask.

The pictures below show our display; their African animal is sitting in front of their African child. The children wrote one interesting fact about their animal on the sentence strip above their child and animal.

Here is a fun art project that I found on Debbie Clement's Rainbows Within Reach blog. The children drew a giraffe on yellow construction paper and then used their oil crayons to add spots and details. They wrote their name along the side of their paper. When finished, they sponge painted the sky around their giraffes. I plan to do a shared writing activity with them about the giraffe next week.

Each child made a parrot to hang up in our classroom "jungle". I copied them onto cardstock on both sides. We discussed how both sides should look the same and they used their Cray pas to color them. After they cut them out, they glued feathers onto their parrot.

Finally, we will be studying the river habitat next week. To begin this study, the children created a mini representation of themselves wearing jungle cruise gear as well as fish in the river. The fish look more like tropical fish than river fish! Oh well! The children added more fish after I took this picture and they are even more beautiful! :) This idea is from Kinderby by Kim. 

If you are interested in my African Jungle Animal unit, you can find it here...

 Also, here is a freebie to go along with this unit! Enjoy!

Until next time!
Blessings, Cindy


  1. OH MY WORD!!!! Is that the most ARTS intensive way to learn about the wider world -- that I have seen recently? I LUV LUV LUV LUV it!!!

    I totally need you to have my "Tall Giraffe" song..... it would be the perfect complement to all of this hard work.

    Thanks for the shout out! What incredible memories you've made!!!

    Debbie Clement

  2. What a fun busy week you've had Cindy. Looks like so much fun! We are studying the rainforest and doing lots of art and writing too. Thanks for sharing!
    Traditions, Laughter and Happily Ever After

  3. Thank you, thank you! It has been a fun 3 weeks! Now on to Oviparous Animals! The fun never stops here in kindergarten land! :)