Voices from the Rainforest Storyline®

written by Colleen Vallerga

Storyline Resources for Teachers (5)

Student art by Caitlin Vallerga’s students.

“There is no doubt that the tropical rainforests of the world are in danger. Every hour approximately six species of life in our tropical rainforests are destroyed. Experts agree that the number one cause of extinction in the tropical rainforest is due to the destruction of the tropical rainforest environment.” – Jason Albright

Grades: 2-5
Total Number of Pages:  105


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Storyline Overview

The Storyline begins with the arrival of an envelope addressed to a classroom of students. Inside is a letter and photos of rainforest animals . The teacher hands out the animal photos for the students to view and discuss. After a few minutes she reads the letter. The letter contains information about the plight of animals in the rainforest and presents a challenge for the students from the president of TED Talks by Kids.

“Would you like to help the animals of the rainforest? Can you learn about the animals, their lives, homes, and what is threatening them? Can you use words in innovative and engaging ways to speak for the animals as they seek help from the people of planet Earth? TED Talks is looking for students just like you to prepare a talk that will persuade others to help the rainforests.”

Enticed by the rainforest animals, students accept the challenge to become TED Kids and set to work. Each student becomes an expert on a rainforest animal and shares his or her knowledge with others.

An in-depth study of a castaña tree, home of the animals, follows. Students explore the complex web of life that connects the plants, animals, humans, and non-living environment to the tree. They study the rainforest that surrounds and supports the tree. They explore real-life problems that threaten the castaña tree community and engage in collaborative discussions sharing ideas, questions, and possible solutions.

With help and guidance from the teacher, students use their writing skills and talents to compose their TED Talks and develop speaking skills as they prepare for their presentations.

Students are given the opportunity to make a difference in the world by becoming advocates for the rainforest animals. The topic is real-life and powerful.

Standards and Instruction Covered

Common Core Language Arts Standards

Reading Informational Text

  • Key Ideas and Details
  • Craft and Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

Speaking and Listening

  • Comprehension and Collaboration
  • Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas


  • Text Types and Purposes
  • Production and Distribution of Writing
  • Research to Build and Present Knowledge


  • Vocabulary

Social Science Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Geography

Next Generation Science Standards

  • Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
  • Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, Dynamics
  • Earth and Human Activity
  • Earth’s Systems
  • From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
  • Engineering Design
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Mathematics Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Number Operations in Base Ten

Health Education Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Promotion of Mental, Social and Emotional Health

Art Standards (Oregon Department of Education)

  • Visual Art
  • Theater
  • Music