This curriculum unit was designed as the culmination of a unit about the rain forest. As an alternative to teaching an entire rain forest unit, one may wish to provide a brief introduction to the rain forest, with a focus on India’s jungles and the animals which live there, since the novel and films are set in India. As global awareness of the plight of the rain forests has increased, so has teaching material about these critical resources. The student and teacher bibliographies at the end of this unit list several sources of information about India and about rain forests.
Whether the teacher decides to provide a brief introduction or to teach an entire rain forest unit, there are several important rain forest elements which should be covered. One may begin by assembling pictures of the following or the items themselves: bananas, cashew nuts, vanilla, avocado, things made from rubber or mahogany. This display will acquaint students with products and everyday items which are supplied by the rainforests of the world. One may then show students pictures of animals, insects, and plant life that exist in the rainforests. Activity 1 “Where in the world are the rain forests?” included in this unit will demonstrate for students where rain forests are located on our seven continents.
After completing Activity 1 and before Activity 2, the teacher should present the. structure. of rain forests. They grow in layers. The highest is the emergent layer, which includes the tops of the very tallest, oldest trees. The animals found at this layer include reptiles, insects, parrots, and some monkeys. Below that is the canopy, where ninety foot trees grow so close together that their leaves form a “roof,” allowing little sun to reach the lower layers. Because this layer receives a great deal of light and has an abundant food supply, many mammals live-here. Orangutans, howler monkeys, flying squirrels, and sloths live in the canopy layer. The understory of the rainforest consists of young trees and the trunks of the canopy and emergent layers. This understory sports brilliantly colored flowers and provides homes for leopards, pythons, butterflies, frogs, and gorillas. The floor of the rain forest is home to insects, reptiles, and easily camouflaged animals such as the tapir, anaconda, and jaguar.
It may be interesting to point out that rain forests contain nearly half the trees that grow on earth and more than half the animal species that live on earth. Most of the plants and animals in the rain forest grow nowhere else. Because Of logging, farming, and ranching, rain forests are being cut down or burned at the rate of ninety to one hundred acres per minute.
When teaching about the rainforest, use as many photographs, illustrations, or videocassettes as possible. This region of the world is so visually stimulating that these methods should be utilized to the fullest. In addition, rain forest life does not survive in a sound-proof environment. The sounds of the tropical rain forests may be as interesting and pleasing as its sights. Useful audio- and videocassettes, and books are listed in the bibliography and resource sections of this unit.
In addition to background information about the setting of The Jungle Book it will be helpful to present information about Rudyard Kipling, the creator of the Mowgli stories, and his life in India and in England. Concepts such as foreign countries and earlier time periods are very abstract to the students with whom this unit will be used. Therefore, it is important to introduce nineteenth century India and Rudyard Kipling’s life there., but not to go into a great amount of detail.
Briefly, India is a nation whose five thousand-year history is evident in its literature, architecture, and religions. Its eight hundred thirty-five million people represent a larger variety of races than any other country in the world. It has six seasons: winter , spring, summer, summer monsoon, autumn, and winter monsoon. The southwestern, southeastern, and eastern portions of the country are regions of dense tropical rain forests. home to tigers, Indian elephants, and many poisonous snakes. One has an above-average chance of encountering a dangerous snake in India. Indians believe that food influences behavior, attitudes, and well-being.
In addition to presenting facts about the country of India, one may wish to use books or magazines which contain vivid photographs or illustrations. As there are several Indian restaurants in the greater New Haven area, one may wish to have students sample traditional Indian fare. Additional activities might include drawing maps of India, listing its principal exports, making flags of India, or writing reports about animals found in its rain forests.
Gloria Kamen wrote a children’s biography of Rudyard Kipling. This book may be read aloud in its entirety to the class, or only the parts which pertain to his childhood and his writing of
The Jungle Book
may be shared. Rudyard lived in India with his parents and younger sister until the age of five, when he traveled to England to live with a couple who were strangers to Rudyard’s parents, but who offered to let Rudyard and his sister live with them until he was old enough to attend boarding school. This situation came about because Rudyard’s parents wanted him and his sister to be educated in England, but could not themselves leave India. Some of the details of Rudyard’s childhood may be interesting to the students for whom this unit is designed. In order for them to identify with the. author of The Jungle Book and many other stories, it may be helpful to highlight these characteristics.
—Rudyard was separated from his parents at the age of six and grew up thousands of miles away from them with people who were strangers to him.
—Rudyard had difficulty reading, and was often scolded or punished because of his behavior and because he did poorly on his lessons.
—Rudyard had only a few old, broken toys to play with, so he spent his days using his imagination to create stories about the jungle where he lived until he was five years old.
Eventually these stories which he invented as a child became The Jungle Book and other stories which are so popular one hundred years after the were written. Presenting these details of Rudyard’s childhood may help students to identify with him, as they may be experiencing some similar difficulties themselves. Rudyard Kipling may become a model for these children: taking a sad, lonely childhood and turning it into timeless, delightful stories, which have also become films.