Rainforest show was cookin’ in Kent

Want to cook up a rainforest like those found in the Amazon basin? Well, it’s pretty simple, really. According to one of the songs sung by second-graders at Emerald Park Elementary, “All You Need is Dung.” OK, maybe, it’s not all you need, but it’s certainly a vital part of the recipe, according to the chefs.

Second graders from Emerald Park Elementary

Second graders from Emerald Park Elementary

Want to cook up a rainforest like those found in the Amazon basin?

Well, it’s pretty simple, really. According to one of the songs sung by second-graders at Emerald Park Elementary, “All You Need is Dung.”

OK, maybe, it’s not all you need, but it’s certainly a vital part of the recipe, according to the chefs.

The song, along with several others, was part of a special assembly hosted March 31 at Emerald Park, part of a teaching unit on the rain forests. The idea of for the show was to look at the four layers of the rainforest - the forest floor, the understory, the canopy and the emergent layer - as a four-layer cake.

“I wanted it to be like a Martha Stewart show,” said music teacher Jim Abernathy, who wrote the show and the songs performed by the kids.

Abernathy said he was trying to think of a metaphor for the layers of the rain forest when the idea struck.

“I thought ‘let’s turn it into a cooking show,’” he said.

So together with the teachers, who supplied Abernathy with a copy of the lesson plans, the show began to take shape with students taking turns as chefs and soloists to add a little extra knowledge about the plants and animals that make up some of the planet’s most diverse ecosystems.

Complete with commercials (for “Boa Constrictor Tape,” which comes with a warning to not use around small animals, “Sloth Ketchup,” which never comes out of the bottle, and the new “Howler Monkey Alarm Clock,” which is not for people with heart conditions or anxiety disorders), the songs take the audience through each layer of the forest before ending with “Rainforest Cake, nature’s recipe” at the end.

The assembly was part of a larger unit called “Forest Explorers” and funded by the Woodland Park Zoo, which hosted the Emerald Park second-graders April 3.

“We’re learning about the rain forest and the layers and the animals in it,” said Garrett Wong, 8.

Among the things they are learning is the difference between a tropical rain forest and temperate one, like those found in Washington state.

“We learned that there’s more birds and stuff in the tropical than there are in temperate,” said Alana Drummond, 8, adding that the temperate forest is colder and missing the emergent layer at the top of the cake.

The kids also learned about the various animals in the rain forest, according to Alina Tarasevich, 8, who called the jaguar “dangerous” and the chameleon “cool.”

“If we hurt the rain forest any more, all the animals will be extinct and no one will be able to see them,” said Drummond.

In fact, for many of the kids, the favorite song seems to be “Jaguar Jazz,” early in the show.

“I like the tone of it,” Tarasevich said, drawing agreement from the group.

As part of their unit, the kids have learned not only about the animals in the amount of oxygen the trees in the forest produce, one of the reasons the classes also planted their own trees April 1.

Second-grade teacher Peg Houden said the unit is one of the favorites through the year.

“It totally gets them jazzed up,” Houden said of the kids. “They really enjoy it.”

And not only that, according to principal Dean Ficken, the songs get them learning without the kids even realizing it sometimes.

“It’s amazing through music ho much the kids retain,” he said. “Songs stick with you.”


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