Businesses interested in working with us, or already doing so, can now visit our business resources site »


Second Grade, Lesson 3: Products from the Rainforest

Second Grade, Lesson 3: Products from the Rainforest


Bananas, cocoa, coffee, wood and many more products originate in the rainforest. As demand for products from the rainforest increases, more pressure is exerted on these precious ecosystems. With 90% of the world’s forests outside of protected areas, the Rainforest Alliance works to protect ecosystems and the people and wildlife that depend on them by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior. For instance, companies and communities in Brazil work with the Rainforest Alliance and their partners to harvest wood while ensuring the forest will remain healthy and productive for generations to come.

Essential Question 

Is this table someone's old climbing tree?

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

Step 1


Students identify the countries of origin for many products they currently use everyday.


- Rainforest items/food (12 items per small group) -- View examples.
- Internet or encyclopedia access
- Paper/pencils

  1. Students are divided into small groups.
  2. Each group has 12 items that are common to everyday life including but not limited to: balsa, bamboo, raffia, coconut, plantains, tangerine, sesame seeds, vanilla, chocolate, chewing gum and rubber balls. These items are mixed with foods and products that come from the United States (locally).
  3. Students sort the items into two categories, those that originate 'locally' or those that originate in the 'rainforest.'
  4. Students search the Internet for the countries that produce these items.
  5. Once the country of origin is found, create a chart of where the items originate.

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


Students begin to understand that many items come from the rainforest and how the amount of resources the use may impact the health of a faraway landscape.


- Book: Rain Forest Plants by Pamela Dell
- Internet or encyclopedia access
- Paper/pencils


  1. Read Rain Forest Plants by Pamela Dell. There is a section in this book that describes products we commonly use that come from rainforests. This book demonstrates our reliance on rainforests. Use this book or similar texts to introduce how indigenous people live in the rainforest and how they depend on its healthy existence. Introduce the idea of the importance of conservation of these resources and how we still may be able to harvest products while keeping the rainforest safe.
  2. Students take two items from their previous list that are from the rainforest. Through Internet research, students will discover where their items are from and how they are harvested or farmed.
  3. Students write a story of the journey one item must make to get to their home and some of the experiences they might have along the way. This should be role-modeled by the teacher so that each different type of transportation and their possible routes is talked about with children.

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


Students take the product from their story and follow its journey on a map from point of origin to their home.


- Maps of North and South America with roads and rivers
- Colored stickers or markers (to chart distances on the map)

  1. Using maps of South America and North America that show major riverways, oceans and some major roads, help students trace the route that their product might take to get to their home.
  2. Have students research the distances 'as the crow flies' in a straight line from Brazil to their home.
  3. Challenge the students to chart how it might have moved across land or over waterways to get to their home in the United States. These might be marked in different colors on the maps. Does this journey take more time? Is it a longer distance to go over water or land routes?

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


Students recognize that the product they have in their home comes from a place where another person their age may live.


- Story: Nelson’s Journey through the Amazon, from the Rainforest Alliance
- Paper, pencils

  1. Introduce the story by discussing the idea that some of the items sorted in Step 1 may have come from the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
  2. Read Nelson’s Journey through the Amazon, an original Rainforest Alliance story, to students.
  3. Discussion questions:
    • How did Nelson change throughout the story?
    • List 5 ways the rainforest is helpful.
    • Would you want to live near Davi and Nelson? Explain.
    • What do you predict will happen the next time Nelson sees a leaf cutter ant?
    • Why was Nelson’s mom proud of him?
  4. Discuss how the Rainforest Alliance and their partners are working to protect the forest while harvesting the products we all use daily. In addition to protecting the endangered ecosystems, these sustainable enterprises also help the local people earn money to support their livelihoods.
  5. Have the students write a story describing why the rainforest is important to them and how their daily lives are connected to tropical forests.
  6. Extra: Have the students write a letter to the Rainforest Alliance thanking them for giving us the opportunity to protect the rainforest and boost the income of local people by buying Rainforest Alliance certified products.
  7. Additional References:

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


Students either read their story of the journey that the item took from the rainforest to their home or read the letter to the Rainforest Alliance.

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

Second Grade Resources

Living in the Amazon Forest Slideshow

A slideshow and script about Brazil that includes background information about the animals, people and landscape of this region. The slideshow can be viewed online in the classroom, or printed out and read as a story.

Unit-Specific Story

Nelson’s Journey through the Amazon

Species Profiles

Profiles include: photos and information on habitat, foraging behavior, group relationships, threats, etc.

Teacher Summary

An overview of Boa Vista do Ramos in Brazil with useful information to introduce you to the lesson topic.

Rainforest Poster

A colorful two-page poster that helps explain the layers of the rainforest, its products and the environmental threats facing many rainforests around the world.

Rainforest Products

A round-up of everyday products that come from the rainforest.

The Oficina Escola de Lutheria da Amazônia (OELA)

Check out the Adopt-A-Rainforest pages for more information about the Rainforest Alliance's partner group in Brazil.

Profiles in Sustainability

Case studies of companies that work closely with the Rainforest Alliance to ensure that their practices protect wildlife, workers and communities.

Venn Diagram Template

A photocopy-ready Venn diagram for use in this unit.

Brazil's Amazon Rainforest Rainfall Data

PDF of rainfall data

Certificate of Accomplishment

Print out colorful rainforest certificates for your students to commemorate their completion of these units.

Resource Index

Supplemental materials to accompany these dynamic units.

Search form