Rainforest Lesson Plans: El Yunque

El Yunque, a tropical rainforest in Puerto Rico, is the only rainforest in the United States. With 28,000 acres, this National Forest sees about 600,000 visitors each year.

Wait a minute — a U.S. rain forest?

Your class may not realize that Puerto Rico belongs to the United States. Polls before Hurricane Maria found that fewer than half of the Americans surveyed knew that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens just like people born in Florida.

Catch up on Puerto Rico if you need to.

Online resourcees

  • The official USDA Forest Service website for El Yunque.
  • ElYunque.com has tourist information and lots of photos. Show it on your smartboard and, as a class, correct the many errors in punctuation — or switch to Spanish for your Spanish class. Click through the links to learn some interesting science tidbits.
  • Travel Channel video (from before Hurricane Maria)
  • Scientists talk about the destruction of El Yunque and how it is recovering.
  • A simple summary of Hurricane Maria’s effects
  • A lesson plan from the U.S. Mint based on the El Yunque quarter and folk tales
  • A personal blog shows a hike in El Yunque after the hurricanes (read before sharing with; slightly rough language at the beginning)
  • Information about the parrots of El Yunque after the hurricanes

Classroom activities

  • Create Before and After bulletin boards to show how the hurricane season of 2017 affected the rain forest.
  • Rainforests around the world are threatened by human encroachment. El Yunque, the first nature preserve in the hemisphere, was seriously damaged by a natural disaster. However, there is evidence that the increase in dangerous hurricanes may also be the result of human actions. Discuss how human choices can affect nature. (This can be a very emotional conversation.)
  • The devastation of El Yunque is providing new and exciting opportunities for study. Collect news stories about research going on in El Yunque.

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