Living Room to Rainforest

We have been transforming our child-friendly living room into a rainforest!  I had hoped to finish it before the Amazon rainforest birthday party, but it wasn’t as complete as it could have been.  I’m going to show you what we did, and then tell you what we would have added if we’d had more time.  This rainforest is actually being slowly transferred to my son’s room now, so we will continue to add to it!

The previous space:

The transformation into an Amazon (specifically Ecuadorian) rainforest:

 

The process:

Large boxes cut with a utility knife to make the tree trunks and branches around the outside of the room; branches attached with clear packing tape; Guaorani-style huts made from more large boxes; and the trunks of the two 3-D trees made from wire fencing from Lowe’s (more detailed pictures of that below).  I attached things to the wall with Command poster strips, so that they would be easy to take down without damaging the walls.

This wire fencing comes in a roll; I bought one 30′ long, and used all of it for the two trees that I made (including branches).  To make the trunks, I unrolled one end and curled it into the size of trunk I wanted, and then used tin snips to cut the wire.  Cutting all of those pieces can make your hand tired, but it’s worth it!  The fencing comes with a small gauge wire wrapped around it, to keep it rolled up; I used this wire to attach the pieces of the trunk together.  I stacked three pieces of trunk (attached with wire) and then added the branches.  You can see how they are supported in the above picture.  This method kept them up for about two months before they started to droop.

I used a pair of needle-nosed pliers to bend the wire and wrap it around the fencing.  It wasn’t at all difficult.

I didn’t want to scratch my floors with the wire fencing, nor did I want the trees to fall over easily, so I supported the bases as seen above.  This method kept them up for about two months before one fell over, still attached to the cardboard.  The tree with the braces around the base, (you’ll see below) which are natural flying buttresses used by rainforest trees to keep themselves upright despite very shallow root systems, is still standing, and in no danger of falling.  The other one just needed  a few readjustments :).

These buttresses are made of cardboard, covered in brown butcher [bulletin board] paper, and tied onto the tree form with string (after making two small holes in the buttresses through which to pass the string).

I simply wrapped the trunk and taped with clear packing tape.

I used these tubes to slide over the branches, and cut tabs at one end to better attach the paper to the trunk.  It worked excellently.

And finished:

A navy blue sheet for the Amazon river, a multitude of animals cut out, colored, and placed in the proper rainforest story, and a few related stuffed animals thrown in for good measure, and it was finished!

More that I would have done if I’d had time:

Many, many more leaves!  This rainforest truly isn’t green enough.  Plus bromeliads and orchids that live on the branches, and some more climbing vines.  I made a few vines by cutting brown paper grocery sacks, rolling them up, and taping them.   I also did have one bromeliad; they’re super easy to make, using a toilet paper tube and green construction paper leaves glued around the outside of it (think the top of a pineapple).  And it’s fun to make something resembling tadpoles swimming around in the center!  A perfect party or classroom project for kids.

Making this rainforest wasn’t difficult, but it was, of course, time consuming.  However, it would be much easier a second time, if you saved the wire tree forms, and maybe even the cardboard trees around the perimeter.  It’s definitely a fun atmosphere for a party or a classroom learning about the rainforest!

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