This is a list of activities related to the book Rainforest Adventure by Thereza Howling.
1) More Poses and Instructions – As explained in the book, each illustration shows a pose related to the colored word in the verse on the page right next to it. Those poses are good stretching and strengthening exercises for your muscles! Here are other words from the poem suggesting more poses! See if you can find some by yourself; or even make up some safe poses with your imagination!
- Page 9 – “vines” – A vine can be represented by a variation of Mountain pose.
Stand up with feet together, and bring straight arms over head
Interlace your fingers, except for the index fingers.
Stretch your arms up towards the sky, while shoulders come down away from your ears.
Lift up your heels off the floor.
Stay in the pose as long as you can (5 – 60 seconds).
Remember to breathe!
- Page 9 – “parrots” (already posted in the book, but here with a new twist at the end, to increase self-confidence)
Stand up and transfer your weight to your left leg.
Bend your right knee to lift up your right foot off the floor.
Bend your elbows.
Bring your hands to the insides of your armpits.
Pretend your bent arms are wings and flap them.
Meanwhile say positive sentences for you and your friend to repeat, such as, “I am a beautiful bird” or “I can do anything, only the sky is the limit!”
Don’t forget to do the pose with the left leg up to balance your body!
Remember to repeat the pose with the other leg up.
- Page 11 – “gorillas” – Gorilla pose.
Stand up and fold forward from your hips, which means keep a flat back while you bend down.
Bend your knees as much as you need to, until your belly touches your thighs.
Lift the front part of your feet and slide your hands under your feet, palms up (yes, it’s better if you have no shoes when doing these exercises).
Align your wrists with your toes, and wiggle your toes to massage your wrists.
Allow your head to hang toward the ground. Stay here for 15 seconds or so.
- Page 11 – “forest” – Tree pose (as the one on page 6) done as a group, that is, by two people or more.
If you are doing this pose with friends, stand side by side in a circle, while having hands on each other’s shoulders. If you are doing this with one friend only, stand side by side with one hand on your friend’s shoulder and the other arm extended in the air.
Stand up on your right foot and lift up your left foot setting it on the inside part of your right leg, above or below the right knee, never on top of it.
Always make sure you do this pose on both sides. So, once you gave tree pose a decent try, according to age and ability (5 – 60 seconds hold), bring both legs to the floor and prepare to do it on the other side, when the left foot will stay firm on the ground and the right foot will come up to the inside of the left leg.
For even more fun, once you feel pretty balanced, try this with eyes closed! Especially if you have a friend supporting you; just remember that a friend supporting you does not mean you can lean onto your friend…
- Page 13 – “stick bugs” – This can be done by performing the balancing stick pose.
Stand with your feet together, arms circle overhead, interlace your fingers with the exception of your index fingers. Lift one leg back behind you while your upper body stretches forward. Hold it for about ten seconds. Bring both feet together; then do it again with the other leg extending back this time.
- Page 13 – “sloths” – Playful movement that will teach kids (and adults!) how to slow down and be patient with it!
Bring your knees to the ground right under your hips.
Bring your hands to the ground aligning your wrists with your shoulders.
Next, really slowly (exaggerating the slow movement), move your right knee forward followed by the left hand moving forward.
After a few seconds (and slow breaths), move your left knee followed by your right hand.
Move as slowly as a sloth – maybe you even take a nap in between moves!
- Page 15 – “piranhas” – Fish pose.
Lie on your back.
Next, bring your forearms and elbows to the ground with hands under your seat, palms down.
If it feels okay with your neck, let your head hang back.
Try to squeeze your cheeks inward, simulating a fish’s mouth! Don’t forget to breathe!
- Page 15 – “water lilies” – Flower pose.
Sit down, and bring the soles of your feet together in front of you.
Lower your arms to the ground, separate your hands, and reach your hands with palms up under your legs. At the same time, lift up your legs off the floor. Feet will naturally separate from each other.
Keep your back as straight as you can. Hold it anywhere from 5 seconds to one whole minute.
Open your chest as if you were a flower enjoying the sunshine on it; then, breathe and smile!
- Page 17 – “egg” – Playful, yet relaxing movement.
Lie on your back, and hug your knees to your chest.
Then, gently swing your body from right to left, massaging your back. Repeat it 2-4 times.
Next, get ready to roll forward and back, with hands holding behind your knees. Make sure you tuck your chin to your chest to protect your head.
After three times going back and forth, finally roll up into a seated position.
2) One fun activity for the younger crowd (2-6yo) to try, even before you start reading the poem, is to imitate rain sounds. The children would sit down and have their hands on the floor, behind their back to support their bodies. Next, they could use their feet to sound like a few drops here and there, then stomp strongly to make loud rain sounds!
3) If you feel like the kids need a warm-up before the poses, you could have them sit in a circle and do shoulder rolls (about 4 times in each direction), gentle neck rolls (about 2 times in each direction), neck moves (turn head to each side slowly about 3 times) and even try a slow freeze game (they could walk around a big circle and stop in place when they hear a bell, a clap or a certain word, for example). In the case of a classroom, if they kids just came from recess, use your common sense to figure out if it is okay to skip warm-ups.
4) If you would like to extend the final relaxation pose, you could lie on your back with arms along the sides of your body, palms up, and legs extended forward. With eyes closed, the person or group performing this pose could stay in this comfortable position for a while. To keep the imagination going about rainforest scenes, you could play some songs related to the theme. Some suggestions would be “Sleepy Jungle Slumber”, found at http://whitenoisemp3s.com/sleepy-jungle-slumber.html
And “Amazon Jungle At Night” or “Amazon Jungle During the Day”, both from Sounds of the Earth (Nature Sounds).
I have found that some children, used to living in the city their whole lives so far and hearing city sounds, feel a bit scared when listening to forest sounds and end up not relaxing completely, which is the main goal of final relaxation. When that happens, I switch to a regular calming song, such as the ones in the album Time For Peace, from Yoga Daily Life Relaxation Music, for example.
Make sure you give them enough time to come out of the relaxation pose, which can sometimes turn into a nap… Well, it has happened to me after a few classes I took! So, gently guide them back to sitting, to slowly open eyes and to begin moving again.
5) One fun question I like to ask at the end of my classes is which one was their favorite pose. Their answer might change from one day to another. Depending on age, you may also ask why. I consider it a fun question because it usually leads the class into giggles.
6) Older children (6-10yo) may be interested in learning more about rainforests. So, here are some interesting facts!
- Some scientists think sloths move really slowly on purpose so predators, such as hawks or cats, will not notice them. Sloths live most of the time on trees, only coming down about once a week to “go to the bathroom”. They live in Central and South American rainforests.
- Toucans are noisy birds whose colorful bills can reach over half of their body size.
- The world’s biggest tapir is found in Southeast Asia. The black-and-white Malay tapir can grow to 800 pounds (363 kilograms).
- Stick bugs, lizards and moths use camouflage to look like trees or leaves and disguise themselves so predators won’t see them.
- Lizard mothers never meet their babies; they lay the eggs underground and leave them. Babies hatch, dig themselves out, and are on their own to survive.
7) Older children (7-10yo) may enjoy a quiz to emphasize their learning or even quizzing their friends if they read the book with a friend (which is a great idea to make it more fun for them when they perform poses together). Here are some questions; to which you will find the answers under item #12. Feel free to add some questions of your own.
7.1) Name an animal from a tropical rainforest whose name starts with the letter T.
7.2) Name two or more animals that live in Amazon rivers, like the river pictured on this book.
7.3) Which animals cited in the poem use camouflage?
8) Quick “I Spy”: How many stick bugs can you find on page 13?
9) Older children may want to explore rainforests further. They could work on finding one or two animals who are not cited in the poem.
With younger children, you could take them outside to notice animals or plants in your area.
10) Engage the kids in a brainstorming session! With the animals found by themselves on the previous item or animals you choose to show them, ask for suggestions on how you can position your bodies to make them look like those animals. Make sure it is safe (you should be able to tell just by looking!) before everyone else performs the pose!
11) Once you decide on how your special pose should look like (and make sure it is possible for your body to perform it!), you can add a picture of the pose you came up with (even by drawing it) to the page dedicated to it on your book, with a dedicated space for that purpose. Please share it through email or facebook with me, too. It will be wonderful to see what everyone can come up with!
12) Answers to the questions from item #7:
- Answer to question 7.1: Tapir or toucan.
- Answer to question 7.2: Manatee, piranha, freshwater river dolphin.
- Answer to question 7.3: Moths, lizards, stick bugs, and even butterflies.
13) You can find more information on ecology for kids on these links
This subject is certainly worth more than a week of lessons. There is so much to be learned in terms of conservation of our planet. I believe that, if these ideas are ingrained in the kids at an earlier age, the kids will grow up with a bigger sense of caring for our beautiful planet Earth, which in turn will help things look better for current and upcoming generations!
14) Once you are familiar with the poses, you can create your own story by performing poses in a sequence. For younger children, a narrator could tell the story while they do the poses following what the story suggests. For older children, it could be like a choreographed movement, without the need for a narrator. They could even separate in groups (or one person at a time) to perform a sequence, and have the others, who were watching, guess what the story is about. So many possibilities for this one!
15) I have included a coloring sheet: https://howlingyogabooks.wordpress.com/rainforest-adventure/coloring-sheet/
Kids may look at the same illustration in the book to color similarly or simply use their imagination to make it look more alive! If they remember, they could also perform the poses relating to the animals or plants they see in that picture.