Sloths & the Amazon

Deforestation – it’s effect on climate change and animal species – was the theme of this weeks’ workshop. As such, we chatted about the Amazon rainforest in South America because it’s the most biodiverse environment on earth and home to an incredible array of captivating, colourful creatures, as well as many endangered species. Brazil, which holds 60% of the Amazon, is the fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet resulting from clearing and burning areas of the rainforest within its borders, so it’s something worth giving thought to especially when thinking of the future.

I began by sketching a sloth on the board and asked the little ones if they knew what it was. Many of them shouted ‘monkey!’ whereupon I explained that even though they look a bit like monkeys, they’re actually from the family of Pilosa; relations to anteaters. The children happily repeated this word back to me but I’m not sure it went in…Fortunately the concept of trees being cut down and taking away the sloth’s homes did, so much so that one particular child likened it to her parents trimming trees in her back garden. I drew parallels with what’s going on in the Amazon but expressed that if we continue to cut down trees at such a rate, along with sloths many other animals are becoming endangered too.

Butterflies, particularly tropical butterflies, are wonderfully beautiful and because I’ve been lucky enough to see how stunning Blue Morphos are in real life, I wanted to share this with these little people. And, who doesn’t love butterflies anyway. Sketching anything in under five seconds is not an easy task, but this lovely class thoroughly enjoyed colouring in and learning about how if rainforests are cleared of their trees, it affects the smallest of creatures as well, even magical, fluttery, dream-like butterflies.

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