October 10-16 is World Rainforest Week.
If you’re looking for a way to engage younger children (grades 1-5) in exploring the power they have to help protect the rainforest, what better way than to have the kids hear about it from a rainforest resident?
With Pedro Comes for a Visit, Pedro (a parrot puppet) shares his story with students, revealing how they have the power to help protect his rainforest home and his neighbors.
Here’s how it works:
1. Before school on the day of Pedro’s visit, place him on a low branch in a tree by the school. (If there is no tree available, find an appropriate perching spot where he won’t be disturbed until you’re able to retrieve him.)
2. Take the students out to meet Pedro. (Slide your hand into the puppet to bring him alive.) Ask him if he’d like to come into the classroom and meet the children. He answers: “Sí, Señor(a).”
Take Pedro out of the tree and lead him and the children back to the classroom. During the walk back, have Pedro ask lots of questions, such as whether there’ll be delicious fruits and nuts in the school, whether the children will help him, whether they have ever seen such a magnificent bird as he, etc..
3. Back in the classroom have Pedro tell his story:
Have him describe the beautiful rainforest where he is from, painting a vivid picture of the lush, life-filled world that is home to parrots and so many other species. Have him describe the complexity of interdependent life in the forests and share important age-appropriate information about the rainforest and its inhabitants.
When the image is complete, have him tell the children what is happening to the rainforests (deforestation for cattle grazing, making furniture, drilling for oil, etc.).
Then have Pedro say, “But that’s not all! It’s bad enough that our homes are being ruined, but we parrots are scared of something else, too.” Have Pedro explain about the capture of young parrots for the illegal pet trade.
“That is why I’m here today, to tell you about what is happening to parrots and to rainforests, so that you can help me and my friends.”
4. Invite the children to ask Pedro questions. When someone asks what they can do to help Pedro and the forest, have Pedro give them many positive choices, and explain his reasons for those choices.
5. Have Pedro ask you to bring out a box of items to show the children – some of which come at the expense of rainforests (like carvings made from rare woods or conventional coffee beans) and some of which come about only through sustainable practices (like buttons made from tagua nuts, shade-grown coffee beans, and certain medicines). (Show photos if you don’t have actual objects.)
6. Have Pedro thank the children for talking to him and for caring about the rainforests and parrots like him.
Have him remind them that their choices matter, that how they live their own lives makes a difference for others, and have him ask them to think about other ways in which they can help rainforests and parrots. Have him tell them that there is hope for the rainforests and for parrots, which is why he is visiting children and talking to them.
“Tell your friends and your parents!” Pedro squawks, as he says, “Adiós. Muchas gracias.”
Alternative: Instead of having Pedro tell the children all they can do to help, you could have the children conduct their own research (or share information from rainforest books with them) and create a list (or poster, chart, etc.) of ways people can help rainforests and parrots. Their efforts could then be shared with others.
Invite the children to think of a project that they as a class can engage in to help rainforests and rainforest inhabitants, and then help them carry out that project.
Pedro Comes for a Visit is a great opening activity to help teach about the destruction happening in rainforests and to involve students in creating positive solutions.