Twin Cities Public Television-PBS Kids
Type Category
Instructional Materials
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.



Two students, Jessica and Stanley, explore the African rainforest habitat exhibit of the New York City Bronx Zoo.  In this video of their field trip, the students learn about biodiversity as they try to answer the question: How can so many different kinds of animals live together in the rainforest?

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Elementary School
  • Grade 2
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

2-LS4-1 Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the diversity of living things in each of a variety of different habitats.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include specific animal and plant names in specific habitats.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This resource builds towards the Performance Expectation. Students observe the plants and animals of the African rain forest. Students would need to explore other habitats so they can compare the diversity of plants and animals between habitats.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
It is implied that students will observe other habitats to make comparisons of the plant and animal life. Through the Dragonfly TV episode, students can observe the animals that live in the African rainforest. Students should take notes during the video in order to record observations and information about the different animals and plants mentioned in the video. Students can see which layer of the rain forest is the animal's home. The layers also show the plant life. It is implied that students will save this observed information and use it in another lesson about another habitat with the goal of making comparisons of the plant and animal life in other habitats. It is important to help students understand how observations and data collection can help to make fair comparisons.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Much of the episode focuses on the animals in each layer of the rain forest. The episode shows some water life but does not name the species. The narrators also explore New York City to see the diversity of life. To fully address the Core Idea, students would need to explore the living things that live in the water areas of the rain forest and of habitats in different areas..

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource was not designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, but can be used to build towards it using the suggestions provided below.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Animal adaptations to their habitats can be discussed to address the suggested Crosscutting Concept of structure and function. Give students the opportunity to observe and describe the physical structures of the animals and plants in the video. Then ask students to explain how those structures are used to help the animals to survive in the rain forest environment.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: No Crosscutting Concept is designated for this standard. The resource does have students observe plants and animals within habitats. However, as students observe the plants and animals within the habitats, the students can discuss the Crosscutting Concept, the role of structure and function of living things within their habitats. The Performance Expectation is partially covered since the emphasis of the video is on the rain forest. Students need to combine this with study of other habitats in order to meet the Performance Expectation. There is no direct activity related to the Crosscutting Concept of structure and function, but it can be achieved by following the suggested tips. Students viewing the video observe and compare the living things in order to see diversity among habitats.

  • Instructional Supports: Background information is provided for the viewer. Home and classroom extensions are provided in this information for further learning. In this resource, the background information states that in the rain forest there are five very different layers: the emergent layer at the very top, the canopy, the under story, the shrub layer, and the forest floor at the very bottom. Note: Most websites and texts list four layers and do not break the layers down into a shrub layer.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This is a resource for observing information about the rain forest habitat. Students could take notes about the living things in a rain forest. The personal notes that the students take about the habitat would show educators the student's progress.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: At the end of the episode, the students can help the narrators determine which layer of the rain forest the observed animals live in based on the TV episode information as animal stickers are placed on a diagram of the layers of the rain forest.