SSPP students create classroom rain forest

Over the course of 10 weeks, Saints Peter & Paul Elementary School sixth-graders created an elaborate rain forest in Lisa Morrell’s classroom. A few of the students who worked on the project are, from left, Riley Bramble, Madison Bauer, Leonel Loaiza-Paucar, Mikie McHale, Alyssa Fox, Ashley Morris and Emmary Sweeney.

EASTON — But for desks and bookcases, the tropical rain forest tucked in the back of teacher Lisa Morrell’s classroom features all of the creepy crawlers, waterfalls, exotic foliage and colorful creatures you would expect to find in the real thing.

Teams of students from Morrell’s sixth grade class recently researched and created a rain forest full of flora and fauna made of papier mâché, mylar, tissue and construction paper, logs and hanging moss.

Seven sixth-graders were glad to get our of class and talk about their elaborate project.

Madison Bauer said the rain forest took about 10 weeks to build. “I learned how to work in a group, and it’s very hard because there’s a bunch of people wanting to do the same thing, and if you’re against what they want to do, it’s kind of hard. “ Bauer said. “Overall it was kind of fun — the work part wasn’t that fun.”

Teachers assigned the small groups who “researched and decided which animal we wanted to (make). We had to do three, and you could do extra if you wanted,” Alyssa Fox said.

In addition to building the forest and populating it with creatures, students had to write “a 300-word project report about your part of the rain forest,” Leonel Loaiza-Paucar said. His team wrote about plants.

Morgan Quaid said she learned about “lots of new animals” and that “the canopy is the top of the forest, and most of the animals of the rain forest live there.”

Mikie McHale said the coolest thing he learned was “that there’s 260 turtle species in the rain forest.”

“We had to make 100 insects,” Riley Bramble said. “There are 2.5 million species of insects, and they’re a bunch of different sizes and shapes.”

“There were some crazy ones — and creepy.” Riley said, giggling. We had to be creative.” She said her team used foam beads and glued them together to make the caterpillars, and it took a lot of time. “For butterfly wings, I used cardboard. You definitely had to be creative.”

“I worked on a Bengal tiger, a green iguana, an ocelot and a red-eyed tree frog,” Alyssa said. “Most of us papier-mâchéd the animals. It was really awesome.”

“The most fun thing was definitely working together in a group,” Emmary Sweeney said. She worked on the background with her three teammates, and they had to present their project to other classes to teach them about the rain forest.

“It was fun to see how they reacted,” Emmary said. “Especially the little kids. They were very excited.”

Leonel liked asking the pre-schoolers if they liked bananas and vanilla ice cream. Then he’d tell them that the banana tree and vanilla orchid were “where they came from.”

“I really liked the look on the kindergartners’ faces,” Ashley Morris said. “We did a bat cave and Mrs. Morrell asked if anyone wanted to get in it. Some of them wanted to, but others were hiding behind another.”

For even younger students, the rain forest was disconcertingly realistic.

Some were scared of the Venus fly traps, Ashley said while her classmates laughed. “I had to tell the pre-K kids that my iguana wasn’t a monster, and it wasn’t going to eat you,” she said.

Follow me on Twitter @connie_stardem.

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