Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

Rainforest Heroes

This product is no longer available.
Write letters, save the rainforest with dated, action-based campaign
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 4
  • Cute graphics and engaging videos get kids excited about activism.
  • Kids can write to encourage their favorite publishers to use recycled paper for books.
  • Letter writing is a large part of Rainforest Heroes' plan to make an impact.
  • There are some solid curriculum options available for educators.
  • Tiki the Tiger and the short film, Forest Family Forever, should appeal to young animal lovers.
Pros
With cute mascot Tiki Tiger and compelling video, kids will be motivated to learn more about rainforest resources.
Cons
Dated pictures, broken links, and old content don't inspire confidence in the site.
Bottom Line
Gives kids some concrete tools but would benefit from more interactivity and a major update.
Emily Pohlonski
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Video clips, stories, and calls to action will draw kids in and motivate them to start helping. But overall, there's not a ton for them to do on the site. Design is fine; there could be lots more images of the rainforest, though.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids will take an active role in learning about the rainforest by taking action. Writing and sending a letter is hugely empowering and teaches kids that they can always get involved, no matter how big the problem.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

YouTube videos have closed captioning that can be converted into other languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Their sister site, Rainforest Action Network, contains a lot more rainforest content.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

For older elementary or middle school kids, you could start by showing "Forest Family Forever." Once kids find out that important things like medicine, and goodies like chocolate and chewing gum, come from the rainforest, they'll want to get involved. With preschool and early-elementary kids, skip the movie and read the short story “The Tiniest Tiger in the Whole World,” which can be downloaded along with Team Tiki classroom materials. Once kids are hooked, use some of the lesson plan materials to learn about the diverse species that live in the rainforest. You can also talk about the history of protest and what writing letters has done to help past causes.

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What's It Like?

Editor's Note: The Rainforest Heroes website has closed and is no longer available.

Rainforest Heroes is a website that helps kids learn about and protect the rainforest. Activities, videos, and stories teach kids about the importance of maintaining biodiversity and the ways we're threatening animals and plants in the rainforest. Kids are given ways to help; they can sign petitions or participate in letter-writing campaigns to major companies whose policies work against environmental causes. Also, before buying a new book, kids can check to see if it's on the site’s rainforest-safe reading list. These are books that are made of paper that's considered “Environmentally Improved” or “Environmentally Superior” by the Environmental Paper Network.

Forest Family Forever! - Watch a 13-minute movie featuring an old grandfather tree teaching his sapling grandson how kids can save the rainforest.

The Tiniest Tiger in the Whole World - Read a story about Tiki, a tiny tiger trying to save his rainforest home.

Climate Case Studies - Read examples of climate change and determine who is impacted by it.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Rainforest Heroes helps kids to see that the incredible diversity of life within rainforests really matters, and when that biodiversity is decreased, we all are threatened. Its biggest strength: The site provides real ways for kids to take action and see results. Rainforest Heroes includes your kids’ letters along with letters from students all over the world in the hopes of making a bigger impact on CEOs and decision-makers.

However, a few improvements could help the site be more dynamic and useful. It's a little weird that they're focusing on only one company (Cargill, which harvests palm oil from rainforests); kids might feel more empowered if they had some other choices. Also, a bunch of the content is dated, and broken links are frustrating. There aren't any interactive games or activities on the site; it would be nice to see a quiz or maybe a form for kids to fill out to start their letters.

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