Lesson 505: The Mata Atlantica: Brazil’s Other Rainforest

One of the world’s most diverse forests, the Mata Atlantica, once covered Brazil’s southeastern coast for over a thousand miles and still blankets the steep hills of Río de Janeiro. Now less than ten percent remains, much of it in protected parks. Within the Mata, runaway slaves established their villages, some of which persist and can only be reached by boat.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the Mata Atlantica rainforest in Brazil and the people who live in this region.

Social Studies Standards

People, Places, & Environments: E, I

Discussion Prompts

  • What are the different ways villagers strive to create a better future for their children despite challenges such as slavery and struggle over land?
  • Why do you think less than ten percent of the Brazilian rainforest remains? What could have caused this to happen when the rainforest is such a precious resource? What steps are being taken to protect the rainforest?
  • How does the philosophy of growing sustainable food for a restaurant serving locally grown food differ from food served at a local fast food restaurant? What are the challenges of each method?
  • If you lived in Brazil, would you rather live in a big city, a town, or in the rural village? Explain why and justify your choice. What are the pros and cons of each lifestyle choice?

Lesson Activities

  • Create a three-way Venn Diagram that compares a large city, a colonial town and an indigenous village in Brazil. Compare and contrast the people, transportation and way of life in these different areas.
  • Select ten birds, including those mentioned in the video, and create a bird book with a photo of each bird, its Brazilian habitat and an interesting fact.
  • Research the Rio De Janeiro Botanical Gardens and create a trifold display geared towards potential student visitors that highlights three important features. Add information about what students will learn during their visit to the Botanical Gardens.
  • Create a four-layered forest drawing or display that shows the different stories of the rainforest. List the plants, trees, and vegetation in each layer.


  • connectivity
  • composition
  • degrading
  • domesticated
  • daunting
  • entranced
  • frantically
  • reforestation
  • rustic
  • substantial


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 5