What's Goin' Down?

6, 7, 8

This is an introduction to the differences and similarities between temperate and tropical rainforests. The group discusses patterns in where rainforests are located, and they begin to research characteristics and gain awareness of their biodiversity. 

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Session

The learner will:

  • define “rainforest” and name some of its traits.
  • identify the locations of the world’s rainforests and patterns associated different types of rainforest.
  • compare and contrast a Temperate Rainforest and a Tropical Rainforest.
  • copies of a blank outline map of the world (handout)
  • green and blue colored pencils 
  • copies of Rainforest A (handout)
  • copies of Rainforest B (handout)
  • copies of What Did You Learn Overhead (handout)
  • copies of Venn Diagram: Temperate Rainforests and Tropical Rainforests
Teacher Preparation 

Find in advance a variety of pictures of different rainforests to display for awareness of the diversity and vibrancy of life in a rainforest. Be sure to find pictures of temperate and tropical rainforests. Be ready to display maps with the rainforests marked. This is easily found with a search on "rainforest locations."


Look up and be ready to display and talk about these vocabulary words and definitions:

  • temperate rainforest
  • tropical rainforest
  • rainforest


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show some pictures of a variety of rainforests from around the world. Brainstorm with the group:

    • What do we know or think we know about rainforests?
    • What would we like to know? 

    The comments and questions they brainstorm may drive what they learn together and on their own.

  2. To answer the "like to know" where are rainforests located, distribute a copy of the World Map handout and, following an image displayed on the board, ask the youth to draw the following latitude lines on their map outline: Tropic of Cancer, Equator, and Tropic of Capricorn.

    With the list of places in Rainforest A handout as reference, they locate those places on a world map (on the Internet) and mark those places with green Xs and label each place name on their map outline. 

  3. Discuss any patterns they see in the locations of the tropical rainforests in relationship to the lines of latitude. Discuss and compare the definitions of temperate and tropical rainforests. 

  4. Using a blue pencil or marker, they locate the areas listed on the Rainforest B handout and label and put on ‘x’ on these locations. These are the temperature rainforests.

    Going back to the brainstormed things they know and what to know, discuss what they have learned, and look up some of the other questions by assigning pairs to each fact or question. Give them 10 minutes to research and then come back and share what they learned. 

  5. Look at and compare pictures of tropical and temperature rainforests. Explain while they have many characteristics in common, they also have differences. (Some learners might ask why Chile is on the temperate list rather than the tropical list. Response: elevation and latitude both play a role in climate)

  6. Using the computers, instruct learners to open the following web page: https://www.mbgnet.net/sets/rforest/index.htm and to read through this article in order to get an idea of what are some of the similarities and differences between a temperate and tropical rain forest. Have the learners complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the two types.

  7. To assess and review comprehension, the learners individually complete and hand in the What Did I Learn handout.


The learner’s ability to identify and locate areas on a world map, their research skills, and the level of their involvement in the group discussions and activities form the basis for their assessment in this lesson.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Define <i>stewardship</i> as a trust of common resources held by a community for citizens.