© Dave Schumaker


What types of plants and animals are found in the distinct layers of the rainforest, and how do they depend on one another for survival and reproduction?


Students will be able to:

  1. find examples of plants and animals depend on one another for survival and reproduction.
  2. discover how animals can aid a plant’s reproduction through pollination and seed dispersal.
  3. experience the distinct layers of the rainforest, while observing the different life specially adapted to each layer.
  • Rainforest Scavenger Hunt Necklace (1 per student)
  • Rainforest Scavenger Hunt Answer Key (1 for teacher; included in this document)
  • scissors
  • yarn (~38” piece per student)
  • hole puncher

Teacher Tip: Why is this museum worksheet a necklace? So that your students won't require pencils.  For the safety of the fish who live in the open-top tank that is the Amazon river, please remind your group to put away loose objects.

Teacher Prep
  1. Print and copy a Rainforest Scavenger Hunt Necklace (2-sided) for each student.
  2. Cut along all dotted lines; this will create 6 foldable tabs on each side of the necklace.
  3. Hole-punch the brown circle underneath the words “forest floor”.
  4. String a piece of yarn (~38”) through the hole to create a necklace.
  5. You may wish to laminate these if you want to use them in subsequent years.

Teacher Tip: Of course, you can have your students help with this the day before the field trip! This will also prepare them for what they will experience in the Rainforest dome.

Before the Scavenger Hunt
  1. Depending on students’ prior knowledge of a flowering plant’s life cycle, you may want to review the following concepts: the functions of a flower, pollinator, fruit, and seed disperser. You may also want to review the concept of adaptations.
  2. Assign students a partner to travel with through the exhibit. To make sure students take the hunt seriously, let them know that the class will be discussing their answers afterwards.
  3. Tell students they will start from the bottom of the page (forest floor) because that is where they will enter the exhibit. Once they find one of the plants or animals pictured on the page, they may fold back that tab and discuss the question with their partner.
  4. Some of the answers will be featured prominently on graphics within the exhibit. Other answers will require the students to reason.
Wrap Up: Discussion Questions

After students have had a chance to explore the Rainforest, ask questions such as:

  • Which plants depend on animals?
  • Which animals depend on plants?
  • What do they depend on each other for?
  • Which animals are pollinators? Which are seed dispersers?
  • What are some adaptations (structures or behaviors that help an organism survive in its habitat) the plants and animals have?
Next Generation Science Standards

Performance Expectations:
Remember, performance expectations are not a set of instructional or assessment tasks. They are statements of what students should be able to do after instruction. This activity is just one of many that could help prepare your students to perform the following hypothetical tasks that demonstrate their understanding:

  • 3-LS3-2: Use evidence to support the explanation that traits can be influenced by the environment.
  • 4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
  • 5-LS2-1: Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • LS1.A: Structure and Function - Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior and reproduction.
  • LS2.A Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems - The food of almost any kind of animal can be traced back to plants. Organisms are related in food webs in which some animals eat plants for food and other animals eat the animals that eat plants. Some organisms, such as fungi and bacteria, break down dead organisms (both plants or plants parts and animals) and therefore operate as “decomposers.” Decomposition eventually restores (recycles) some materials back to the soil. Organisms can survive only in environments in which their particular needs are met. A healthy ecosystem is one in which multiple species of different types are each able to meet their needs in a relatively stable web of life. Newly introduced species can damage the balance of an ecosystem.
  • LS2.D: Social Interactions and Group Behavior - Being part of a group helps animals obtain food, defend themselves, and cope with changes. Groups may serve different functions and vary dramatically in size.
  • LS3.A: Inheritance of Traits - Other characteristics result from individuals’ interactions with the environment, which can range from diet to learning. Many characteristics involve both inheritance and environment.

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect - Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change.
Appropriate for: 3rd Grade - 8th Grade
Standards for: 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Activity Time: 30 minutes
Subjects: Cause & Effect, Life Science, Scavenger Hunts
Exhibits: Rainforest