The Magic School Bus in the Rainforest

Field Trip Notes
The kids rent a rain forest cocoa tree as an Earth Day present for Ms. Frizzle. But when the harvest arrives, there’s only one shriveled cocoa bean inside - plus a note from Inspector 47 reporting that, for reasons unknown, the tree isn’t producing beans! D.A. and Tim become detectives as Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the rain forest to meet the impeccable inspector, who keeps a tidy mud-free cocoa grove. What has Inspector 47 done to the rain forest’s intricate web of life that is keeping the tree from making pods?
The Big Picture

Going Hands-On

Time: 20-30 minutes
Group Size: Variable

Led by detective Tim and D.A., Ms. Frizzle’s class discovers that all life in the rain forest is connected. Your kids create and feel the tug of the connections in your community’s web of life.

What You Need

  • Name tags
  • Marker
  • Ball of yarn
  • Thin cardboard, like old manila folders
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Tape
  • 6 pencils
  • Modeling clay
  • Copies of THE BIG PICTURE page
Talk About It

Ask: How do animals and plants depend on each other? (for food; some animals use trees for homes, shelter; deer need hawks to eat rabbits that compete for food, and so on)

What To Do
  1. Sit in a circle. Toss the ball of yarn to a kid and ask for the name of a local plant. Write it on a name tag for the child.
  2. Ask: What eats or uses the plant? Keeping hold of the yarn end, the plant kid tosses the yarn to a responder, who gets a name tag.
  3. Ask: What does this organism use or eat? What eats it? Continue to link community members as long as possible. Cut the yarn.
  4. If everyone is not connected, start again with a new plant. Tie the yarn together as the web connects with organisms already included.
  5. Something happens - perhaps a tree is bulldozed or falls from disease. The person who is the plant tugs the yarn.
  6. Everyone who feels the tug raises a hand. The hand raisers tug on the yarn they hold. All who feel the new tugs raise their hangs
  7. Continue until everyone has felt the tug from the removal of one thing in the web.


Next Stop
Make a bulletin board of your “Big Picture.” Kids draw their plant or animal from the web game. Have kids connect their organism to as many others as possible. Use red yarn for feeding relationships, green for home and shelter, black for other connections
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