Fourth Grade, Lesson 3: How is a Frog Able to Swim in the Trees?

Fourth Grade, Lesson 3; How is a Frog Able to Swim in the Trees?


Many plants and animals have developed unique systems of interdependence. These systems are essential for their survival.

Essential Question 

How is a frog able to swim in the trees?

Step 1 -- Connect (The Concept to Prior Knowledge)


Students examine the different aspects of their day-to-day survival. For example: How do they adapt to temperature changes? What do they eat? What do they drink? How do they travel from place to place?


- Ecuador slideshow


  1. Each student draws a picture or lists the things that he/she most needs for survival in their particular region of the country. This can include physical conditions like food and types of shelter. It might also include emotional things like friends and safety. It should take into account the regional climate, rainfall, seasons, etc.
  2. Students watch the Ecuador slideshow from the Rainforest Alliance to get a feel for the bioregional characteristics of the tropical rainforest.
  3. Have students revise the list of their daily survival activities as if they were going to go to the rainforest to live. Would their needs be the same in the rainforest as in their current home?
  4. Additioanl References: The Secrets of Tropical Rainforests: Hot and Humid and Teeming with Life, by Jean Hamilton

Step 2 -- Literature/Discuss (Give Expert Information Book; Ask Questions)

Step 2


Students investigate and analyze the different ways that plants and animals are interdependent in different bioregions.


- Book: Plants and Planteaters, by Michael Chinery (or another book about bromeliads and tree frogs)
- The Poison-Arrow Frog and the Bromeliad


  1. Students select a plant or animal from their local bioregion and do a chart that lists all the things that animal or plant depend on in the environment (bees, water, soil, wind, etc.).
  2. Students learn about bromeliads and discuss the concept of interdependence and survival needs for the bromeliad in the tropical biome and particular bioregion of the plant's location.
  3. Teachers bring in different examples of bromeliads (purchased at a local nursery) or photographs of bromeliads if plants not available. Students examine examples of bromeliads from a nursery. Students discuss the similarities and differences between the bromeliad and the plant species selected for observation from their own bioregion.
  4. Read aloud: Plants and Planteaters, by Michael Chinery (or another book with information about bromeliads and tree frogs)

Step 3A -- Practice (Math and Learning Centers)


Students decide what is necessary to their survival and what could be removed from their systems of survival without causing any harm.


- Paper, pencils
- The Poison-Arrow Frog and the Bromeliad


  1. To better understand their level of dependence on certain systems in their home, students "take apart" their homes and identify the major systems it involves.
  2. Students analyze where the energy comes from that is used to power these systems (hot water, air conditioning, heat, refrigeration, lighting, etc.).
  3. Students discuss which 'survival' systems they might do without and the reasons why.
  4. Connect the concept to species survival.  Refer to the example of the bromeliad and tree frog in Step 2.  Ask students to consider if any part of the bromeliad/tree frog system can be removed without harming one of the organisms.

Step 3B -- Create (Performance Tasks Related to Standard Indicators)


Students consider the phrase: "Chachi people consider the rainforest a living being."


- Ecuador slideshow, species profiles, and story: Romel's Rainforest Home (all available on the Resource Index)
- Internet access to the Adopt-A-Rainforest pages for Ecuador (These pages can be printed out for the class as well.)


  1. Students research the Rainforest Alliance resources related to the Ecuador rainforest. Students discuss the different ways groups of people might think about land and its resources and consider different approaches to land use.
  2. Students write an essay that explores the way they think about the place where they live. Students should address the way they think about aspects of the land. For example: What places do they consider 'useable'? Which places would they consider special? What are consumable resources in the place where you live? What aspects of the land would you consider off limits to development?

Step 4 -- Present (Edit Work/Students Present Projects)


Students consider the effects of removing certain plants or animals from their bioregion on their survival or quality of life.


- Profiles in Sustainability


  1. Students write a story that traces the effect of removing bees from their landscape. Or what would happen if all the trees were removed?
  2. From Romel's point of view, students think about and discuss what might happen in the rainforest if the tall trees were removed? What if the land was cleared near a river?
  3. Discuss with the class the idea of sustainable management of land, in which wood and other forest products can be harvested in a way that keeps the entire forest intact.
  4. Have students consider managing the land so that essential characteristics are left intact while others are used for resources.
  5. For more information and case studies of companies which are involved in sustainable land management, visit the Profiles in Sustainability.

The Rainforest Alliance curricula is unique in that it teaches language arts, math, science, social studies and the arts while addressing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics, and the Next Generation Science Standards. Our multidisciplinary curricula present information on forests, biodiversity, local communities and sustainable practices. Lessons provide a global perspective on the importance of protecting the world's natural resources, locally and globally, while giving students opportunities for direct action.

To help teachers seamlessly integrate our resources into their lesson plans, we have correlated our kindergarten through 8th grade and climate curriculum guides to the Common Core State Standards for both English language arts and mathematics, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards. Please feel free to use these correlations to help guide you through these lessons, as well to help you identify extensions and adaptations to advance your work.

The Rainforest Alliance can help your school district incorporate local standards and closely align our curricula with the educational mandates in your region.

In addition to the above standards, the education program seeks to advance alignment opportunities with the US Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development; National Education for Sustainability (K-12) Student Learning Standards.

For any further inquiries, please contact us at

Fourth Grade Resources

Species Profiles

Additional Resources

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