We’re not saying you should encourage slothfulness, but sloths are cute and chill. They can give a relaxed feel to your classroom and they’re sure to make you and your students smile. They can also be a perfect theme for a study of the rainforest, Latin America, or temperament.
Sloth classroom decorations
The Sloth Dress Me for the Weather Set from Carson Dellosa is a great starting point for lessons about sloths.
Add a sloth book tree wall decal for your reading corner.
A sloth mat makes a good story time spot.
Sloth cutouts are great for writing names, making centers, and spotlighting student work.
Add some sloth books
We’re big fans of Eric Carle, and his book “Slowly, Slowly,” Said the Sloth is poetic and carries an important message, too. The illustrations are vibrant.
Mindful Mr. Sloth is another book with a positive message about slowing down. Sasha takes a speedy approach to life, but she learns the value of mindfulness in this book.
Sparky starts with a little girl who wants a pet. Her mother says she may have one as long as it doesn’t need to be walked, bathed, or fed. The girl orders her pet with a set of expectations that don’t really match the reality. Together, they navigate the challenges of friendship, acceptance, and finding joy in the little moments.
Sloth Slept On is the story of a group of children who find a sloth sleeping in a tree. They do research and brainstorming, learn what the sloth is, and come up with a plan to send him back to the rainforest. Along the way, sharp-eyed students will notice that the sloth is in fact missing from the local zoo. What will happen when he wakes up in the rainforest?
Learn about sloths
Don’t you love sloths? We all do. In fact, we have developed a mythos about sloths that says that they are kind, compassionate, mindful, and accepting of differences. It’s not clear where we got this idea. In fact, sloths sleep for 15 hours a day, spend nearly all their time alone, don’t like to be touched by humans, and will attack with their 4-inch claws if they feel threatened. They are nocturnal animals and can be aggressive. They do not make good pets.
Sloths are wild animals. There were very large prehistoric sloths living in what is now the United States a very long time ago, but now sloths live in Central America and the northernmost parts of South America. There are six different species of sloths, and they are mostly the size of a small dog.
Sloths are mammals. They live in trees and eat leaves, like koalas, but they are not closely related to koalas. The National Geographic resource linked below compares koalas and sloths.
If you think about sloth temperament, you might say that they are introverts, calm, and shy. Challenge students to come up with three words to describe their own temperaments.
- The World Wildlife Fund shares basic facts and cute photos.
- National Geographic Kids has a video and info.
- PBS has a video on “Sloths in Their Ecosystem.” It includes printables, such as a graphic organizer for collecting information on sloths.
- The Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica has a collection of activities on sloths.
- Scholastic has a hands-on lesson plan to go with “The Sloth Has a Secret.” an article in Science Spin. You can use the lesson without the article if you have done some reading about sloths.
- The San Diego Zoo has a good read-together article for older students.