The dark, hot, humid, shadowy environment of the tropical rainforest is recreated in this room to give it an authentic tropical feel. The moment children step into the room, the noticeable temperature difference, the texture of the flooring, and the shadows created by strategic lighting and foliage create the backdrop for their rainforest exploration adventure. The sounds of pouring rain, yelping monkeys, tropical birds, croaking frogs, and chirping insects will also set the stage for a truly tropical experience.
Dressed in their safari vest and guided by their flashlights, children begin their adventure learning about the types of animals, plants, and weather phenomena found in the tropical regions of the world. The large electronic butterflies with their flapping wings will grab initially grab children’s attention. But it’s the live creatures such as Shelly the redfoot tortoise, Leo the leopard frog, and Phoebe the tarantula that really pique the children’s interest. Using their binoculars, children can seek out the well-hidden animals and insects by following tracks on the floor, and can view the four layers of the rainforest: the floor, understory, canopy, and emergent layer. Their search and discovery of hidden tropical creatures initiates a discussion about camouflage, habitats, food and animal growth and survival.
Not only do children learn about the inhabitants of the tropical rainforest, they are also introduced to the foundational elements of the structure of the region as well. Children also learn where on the earth the tropics are located and how plants and animals grow larger in the rainforest than on other regions due to the proximity to the equator.
As children explore the Tropics Area, they will develop math and literacy skills, increase their vocabulary, and learn about ecology, the environment, biology, and climate. The learning activities lead to conversations about careers in biology, ecology, environmentalism, entomology, and scientific research. Children will engage in learning activities in the Tropics Area that will give them a realistic experience in a faraway place that’s close to home.