Friday, September 14, 2012

Brazilian Rainforest: Who, What and Where?

The Brazilian Rainforest

No area in the entire world is more important to our future than rainforests.  The Amazon rainforest, in Brazil and some surrounding countries, is the most diverse rainforest in the world.  Sometimes called the "lungs of the planet", the plants of the rainforest create almost 20% of the world's oxygen through photosynthesis.  Over 100 prescription drugs already come from plants and over 3000 plants are known to be active in fighting cancer cells - and that is with less than 1% of the tropical trees and plants having been tested.  There is soooooo much more to be discovered. Unfortunately, the rainforests are being cut down and burned to make farmland, cattle grazing land, or to sell the wood for timber. 
500 years ago there were over 10 million Indians living in the rainforests, but now there are less than 200,000 and as we lose them we lose the knowledge they have of the medicines they use.  The destruction of the rainforest is hurting everyone but as the countries figure out that harvesting the nuts, fruits and plants is more profitable and renewable than cattle lands and wood, the destruction is slowing down.  Conservation has tripled since 2002 and deforestation has slowed down by more than 50%.  Great news for all of us, but especially the many, many species of animals that make the rainforest their home.

There are so many living things in the rainforest.  It is said that 1 out of 10 known species live in the Amazon Rainforest!  There are 2.5 million species of insect - not TOTAL insects- SPECIES of insects!! YIKES!! At least 40,000 different plants, 2,200 fish species, 1,300 bird species, 427 different mammals, and 378 types of reptiles.  And that is just the already discovered ones!  Some of the animals you've heard of, like the Squirrel monkey, the toucan, anaconda and jaguar.  But do you know what a Capybara is? Or an Ocelot? How about a caiman or tomato frog?  We found a great website, that shows all the pictures and has lots of great facts.  And we decided to make a Tropical Rainforest parrot for our next project.

Art Project: "Recycled" Rainbow Macaw

For the project you will need:

  • Feathers
  • An empty juice bottle
  • Styrofoam Ball
  • Cardboard tube and flat cardboard for wings and tail
  • Pins
  • Tape
  • Glue or spray adhesive
  • Googly eyes or eye stickers
1.  Take cap of juice bottle and push styrofoam ball so that it sits on bottle neck (like any good head should)
2.  Cut tube into a beak shape.  Make top a little longer and then bend it over like a parrot beak.  I put a little snip on either side and glued it so it looked like this. Leave a little tab on bottom and top so you can pin it to the styrofoam.

3. Pin beak to styrofoam and tape some wings on either side of body and a little flap on back to attach tail feathers.

4.  Wasn't sure if glue would stick to the plastic so we used spray adhesive and sprayed all over bird.  Also, glue + feathers + kids = BIG MESS so the spray glue was a little neater.
5.  Sort your feathers by color so you don't have to dig for the color you want. This was a great project for the 3 year old!

6.  Go to it and decorate your beautiful Rainbow Macaw!!!

Polly want a cracker?

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