This month’s Books Teachers Love collection is filled with books about loving our planet, enjoying the weather, and celebrating spring holidays. Take a moment to hop through each of the posts below to gather the lessons and activities that work best for your class, pin them for your lesson planning pleasure, complete your giveaway entries, and cross your fingers for the big win!
My favorite spring holiday is Earth Day. As I’m sure you’ve gathered from my Classroom Tour posts, I have a special place in my heart for nature’s beauty (and colors). I love sharing my passion for protecting nature with my second graders and seeing their young hearts and minds light up with inspiration to save the planet.
One of the perfect ways to launch conversations about showing your love for Mother Earth is The Great Kapok Tree: The Tale of the Amazon Rainforest by Lynne Cherry. This is a beautifully powerful story about the interconnectedness of all living things. At the beginning of the story, a young man begins to chop down a Kapok tree in the Amazon Rainforest. After exhausting himself in the rainforest heat, he lays down to take a nap midway through his work. As he naps, the many creatures that live in and depend on the Kapok tree visit him and whisper pleas to save their treasured home. When the man awakes from his slumber to resume work cutting down the tree, he has a change of heart. He drops his ax and walks out of the rainforest without a word, saving the tree and preserving the lives of all the living things that depend on it.
This story’s lovingly written and illustrated pages ignite a powerful connection to nature in young students’ hearts. This is the perfect read aloud for the month of April in preparation for Earth Day on April 22. It is written in a way that allows students to understand the web of life and serves as a perfect conversation starter about the ecological importance of saving the rainforests.If you are interested in providing your students with an opportunity to dig deeper into this read aloud, swing by my TPT store to download my Earth Day Activity Pack, inspired by The Great Kapok Tree. This resource includes the following activities:
Nonfiction Read and Respond
This nonfiction article helps students learn more about the majestic Kapok tree species. There are several unique features that make this tree the ideal home for many plant and animal species in rainforests around the world. The reading response questions attached to this article are a great way to measure your students’ nonfiction comprehension skills.
Earth Day Writing Prompts
After a class conversation inspired by Lynne Cherry’s book, engage your students in a writing activity. Empower student choice by providing them with the opportunity to select one of the seven prompts listed below. Stationery for each of these prompts is also included in my Earth Day Activity Pack to make your prep time a breeze.
Informational Writing Prompts:
- What might have happened to the plants and animals of the rainforest if the man chopped down the Kapok tree?
- Research one living creature from the story The Great Kapok Tree. Write an informational piece about that creature.
- How does a Kapok tree help other living things in the rainforest?
- What is something you can do in your own life to help protect nature?
Opinion/Persuasive Writing Prompts:
- After the man in the The Great Kapok Tree walks out of the rainforest, he decides to convince other people to save the rainforest. What might he say to convince others?
- Why is Earth Day an important day to celebrate?
- Why do you think helping the Earth is important?
Kapok Tree Art Project
The pages of The Great Kapok Tree not only inspire readers to protect the rainforest, they also inspire creativity. This art project is a beautiful way to display some of the learning students gain as a result of your lessons surrounding this book. As part of this project, students will be able to identify the layers of the rainforest and draw an abstract version of the understory and forest floor, which are both featured as the setting of The Great Kapok Tree.
I hope your enjoy using these ideas in your classroom. I would absolutely love to see the Kapok tree inspired art projects your students create. Feel free to snap a photo of your art and tag me @CoreInspiration on Instagram.
To learn about other read alouds for the month of April, visit the rest of our Books Teachers Love posts here.