Singin' in the Rainforest

by Michael Porter
Our first graders turned their learning about rainforests into a musical event, Singing in the Rainforest. Students sang, danced, and played instruments to bring the mystery and beauty of the rainforest into a colorful and entertaining show.
First grader Thomas H. became aware of the importance of learning about the rainforests "so we can help the animals."
"Lots of the trees are getting cut down," Thomas said. "We want to help the animals by trying to find a way so we can not use so many trees.”
The animals were something the students really took note of.
Mary Alice R. said, "I learned that there can be sloths with three toes or there can be sloths with two toes."
She liked the three-toed sloth the best. She also learned the that the red-eyed tree frog is poisonous.
Simon C. explained the defense mechanism of the frogs.
"The blue frogs and yellow frogs and the red frogs are poisonous as well," said Simon. "For creatures it makes them know that they're poisonous. Beware! I'm poisonous! You don't want to go near me!"
The tree frogs make an appearance in the show, hopping around the stage while the other students sing.
Simon was also fascinated by a snake.
"We learned about the green tree python," said Simon. "When it's a baby it turns red instead of green. Yellow, too!"
For the duration of the rainforest unit, Director of Education Tonya Elstein brought in her 16-year-old pet green tree python named Ocho for the students to observe. It was on display behind glass, and the students gazed at it when traversing through the hallway.
The students were intrigued by the blue morpho butterfly, which actually has no blue pigment in its wings. Instead, the top of its wings is covered with microscopic scales which reflect blue light.
"I learned the blue morpho butterflies aren't actually blue," said Mary Alice. "They're actually a brownish color and when the light reflects it they turn blue."
Simon added, "When it closes its wings up it’s brown and it has fake eyes to look like it’s another animal and to blend in."
The blue butterflies are represented in the show with a lovely dance (pictured at the top of this article) choreographed by Dance Instructor Hannah Tucker.
Music Specialist, Jessica Barker brought the rainforest to life through music and sound. In an exciting moment in the show, the students clicked their fingers, clapped their hands, and stomped their feet to produce the sounds of a rainstorm starting, growing, and finally dissipating.
"I learned it rains 60 inches a year in the rainforest," said Thomas.
In addition to singing, many students also played instruments in the show. Xylophones, glockenspiels, a drum, and other gadgets highlighted various points in the program.
As is typical of live productions, obstacles pop up. Simon had a bit of difficulty with the slide whistle during the performance.
“My instrument broke and I had to put it back together," he said.
“[The part] that you put your finger through it came apart so I had to put it back up.”
He was successful in getting the instrument back together in time and the show went on!