The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry is one of my favorite stories to read with my students. It's a tale of the deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest. We're in the midst of our geography unit and teaching central message, so this book was a perfect tie-in to both!
If you don't own a copy of the book, CLICK HERE for a free e-version!
Before reading the book, we took a look at the map of the Rain Forest on the first page. This was very important because we used our map skills and read the key to figure out what the green shading represented. We also discussed what the map was missing -- a compass rose. So, make sure you don't skip over the map -- I almost did, my kiddos were the ones who pointed it out (so proud of them).
We read the story twice. The first time we just listened to the story and then we reread it and used information from the text to make a list of the reasons why people shouldn't cut down trees.
In all, we came up with six different reasons why the trees should not be cut down. I then had each student highlight the three reasons they felt were most important.
We then used those three reasons and wrote a persuasive letter to stop deforestation. I'm planning on actually sending them somewhere (when my students know I'm actually going to mail their letters to real people, they work SO MUCH HARDER), I just haven't figured out to what organization. Do you have any ideas?
(he'll be finishing his tomorrow morning...)
I have lots of books on the rain forest and I'd love to spend time reading all of them, but we're running out of time so my plan for tomorrow is put my students into groups of 2 - 3 and give each group a different book on the rain forest. As a group, they'll read the book and then summarize the most important points. If we have time, I'll require them to give an oral summary -- which will practice their speaking and listening skills too.