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Listening to the forest

Students sit and listen to a recording of the rainforest for a minute or so, and then write or draw everything they hear and words to describe the rainforest atmosphere. They can then talk about:

  • What sounds they heard and in what order?
  • How can we represent / put the sounds down on paper
  • Could we recreate some of the sound using our own instruments?
  • How could we organise the sounds into a piece or performance?


Make a squawking parrot

Since animals can’t see very far in the thick green foliage of the rainforest, they have to use their other senses. Some use very bright colours to let others know where they are, while others, such as monkeys and birds, use loud, low sounds to stay in touch over long distances. Here’s how to make a flock of squawking parrots:


pieces of sponge
paper in bright colours
drawing pins
brightly coloured plastic cups or yogurt pots

Using a drawing pin, poke a small hole in the middle of the bottom of plastic cup. Widen with point of scissors so you can get the string through – be careful not to crack the cup. Tie a knot in the string and pull it through the hole until the knot stops at the hole. Glue knot into place and allow to dry.

Decorate cup with pieces of paper cut to look like feathers and beak on the head of a parrot. Draw in eyes with a marker. Wet a piece of sponge. Tie the damp sponge to the end of the string and let it dangle. Moisten the string. This gives some tautness to the string and keeps it moist, producing a louder sound. Grasp string between index finger and thumb and slide down length of string. This should produce a squawking sound that is amplified by the shape of the cup. Experiment with different size cups and thicknesses of string.

Jungle Drums from Junk!

Make an instrument from found objects.  Collect large containers like large coffee tubs. They need to have a plastic lid. Decorate the tub with brightly coloured geometric patterns to make it look exotic! Replace the lid to make a drum. You can use wooden spoons as drum sticks and, if you add dried peas inside the tub it can double up as a snake shaker too!

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