Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Great Kapok Tree

The Great Kapok Tree

by Mark Warner
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Buy This Book * More books by Lynne Cherry

One day, a man exhausts himself trying to chop down a giant kapok tree. While he sleeps, the forest’s residents, including a child from the Yanomamo tribe, whisper in his ear about the importance of trees and how all living things depend on one another . . . and it works.

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Use the setting of the Amazon rainforest for your own story.
  • Use the first line of the book (“Two men walked into the rain forest”) as the starting point for your own story.
  • Write a diary of a person visiting the Amazon rainforest.
  • Make a persuasive poster to encourage people to support charities that help to protect the rainforests of the world.
  • Make a glossary of words related to the rainforest. Can you find some examples in the book? Could you write definitions for the words?
  • Find words that the author has used to describe the animals (e.g. colourful parrots, silent snakes, graceful jaguars). Can you think of any others?
  • Can you find any examples of onomatopoeia in the story?
  • Write a news report about the destruction of the rainforest.
  • Discuss the images shown in our Rainforest Inspiration Posters.
  • Imagine that you fell asleep under the Great Kapok Tree. What dreams might you have?
  • Write a similar story in which animals talk to a person in order to teach them something. What might happen to them?
  • Could you turn this story (or part of it) into a play script and perform it to others? Here is one example:

  • Read to the end of the book and write about what might happen next. Where will the man go? What will he do? What might he say to the man he was with at the start of the story?
  • In the back of the book, there is a letter from the author, Lynne Cherry. Could you write a reply to her?
  • Write a recount about a trip to the rainforest using this free resource.
  • The following video gives more information about the book and the rainforest. Could you create a similar video (or a written / audio report)?


  • Make a list of animals shown in the book. Could you use a Venn diagram or a Carroll diagram to sort them in different ways?


  • Look at the front cover of the book. How many different animal species can you see? How are they similar / different?
  • No one notices the jaguar “because his spotted coat blended into the dappled light and shadows of the understory.” Can you find out about other animals that use camouflage?
  • The porcupines tell the man that the tree produces oxygen. Can you find out more about photosynthesis? Make a diagram to teach others about the process.


  • Use drawing / painting software to create a picture of a rainforest. Could you try to recreate the front cover of the book?
  • Can you use coding tools to make a game set in the rainforest?
  • Make an animated version of the story using these examples for inspiration:

Design Technology

  • Make a diorama / model of the rainforest, showing the different layers of the forest and the plants and animals that live there. Our free poster gives more information about rainforest layers.


  • Look at photos and illustrations of the Amazon rainforest. Can you use them as inspiration for your own art?
  • Follow along with the art activity at the end of this video from the Newark Museum of Art:


  • Imagine that you are standing under the Great Kapok Tree. What sounds might you hear? Could you create a piece of music / audio that reflects this?


  • Can you find the location of the Amazon rainforest on the map shown inside the book? How large is it? How far is it from where you live? How could you travel there?
  • Create a weather report for the rainforest. How would it compare to a weather report for the place where you live?
  • How does cutting down the Great Kapok Tree affect the animals living there? Make a list of ways, using examples from the text.
  • Why do people cut down the trees in the rainforest? Can you find out why? What can we do to protect rainforests?
  • Imagine a world without trees? How would it be different?
  • The book mentions a child from the Yanomamo tribe. Can you find out about tribes living in the rainforest? How do their lives differ from your own? How might they be similar?


  • The anteaters tell the man, “what happens tomorrow depends on what you do today.” Can you think of an example of when this has come true? What can you do today to make a positive change for tomorrow?
  • The author’s letter says, “Together we can make a difference”. What could you do with others to improve things in your local area and around the world?

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