With all the sights and sounds of the rainforest, two third-grade classrooms at Juniper Elementary were transformed into impressive large-scale displays of the Amazon on Friday.
From jaguars to howler monkeys, students stood in front of their life-size exhibits of various rainforest animals and plants, sharing facts about their displays to passing parents and community members who were invited to tour the classrooms.
Spearheaded by third-grade teacher Laura Fedders, all third-grade classes at Juniper Elementary participate in these displays as an attempt to bring awareness of the endangered ecosystem while educating students about the environment and how to help save the rainforest.
Two of the classrooms were covered top to bottom in vibrant displays while the other two classes set up their detailed projects outside for viewing. For the project, students were to pick an animal or plant within the Amazon and then report on what they had learned.
As visitors approached the displays, the children readily awaited their guests, eager to explain all sorts of facts about their projects, including information about diets, life spans, living conditions and everything in between.
“Do you guys know you are walking on the rainforest floor?!” student Mayra Canela excitedly yelled before explaining the types of bugs that were below her feet.
While the highly-detailed rainforest project seems to grow every year, the idea was originally hatched 20 years ago by Fedders after she returned from an educators workshop in the Amazon. After her return, she immediately wanted to share what she had learned with the students.
“I just love getting to see them shine and this is out-of-the-box learning,” Fedders said.
As part of the project, students were asked to accumulate products from home that came from the Amazon. Those products were then displayed on a long table to give a visual of how much materials from the Amazon are in our everyday life.
“When I went to Sequoia National Park, I really liked the trees so I picked the Kapok tree,” student Andrew Plascenein said about his own exhibit. “Do you know what these are used for? They go in the cushion for car seats and toys.”
There was also a bake sale on hand with all proceeds being donated to the Rainforest Alliance.
“These students have such a great impact in the global community, they will always remember this and make lifelong decisions,” fellow third-grade teacher Kadi Heil said. “We are helping our students become ambassadors to educate the world.”
The display typically stays up in the classrooms for around three to four weeks, although the school only opens the displays up to the public for one day.
For more information, call Juniper Elementary at 760-244-6161. The school is located at 9400 I Ave. in Hesperia.