STEM Lesson Series Lesson 2: Orangutan Jungle School

For Grades: K-6

Step 1 - Introduction


Lesson Overview

Learn about orangutans and a special school in Borneo that teaches orphaned orangutan babies what they need to survive! When you’re done, your project is to build a model of the Jungle School using recycled materials and natural items from your yard!

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Photos from Nerds

Step 2 - Learn More


Let’s learn a bit about orangutans!

Take about 10-20 minutes to see and read about orangutans. Even though these sites are meant for all ages of nerds, younger nerds (K-3) may need help reading. We’ve included a special PDF provided by an amazing teacher we know, Mrs. Orozco. She specifically wrote it for Kindergartners – 1st graders to read and decode on their own! 

SD Zoo Live Cam

Grades K-6
Live Ape Cam of orangutans at San Diego Zoo! Oh my gosh this is so fun!

DK Find Out

Grades K-6
Fun interactive page! Click on each part of the orangutan's body to learn more.

Reading Passage

Grades K-1
Mrs. Orozco wrote this special orangutan passage for you!

For All Grades!

Smithsonian Channel: Orangutan Jungle School - And So It Begins

(Full Episode 48 min) – YOU GUYS! Have you seen this show? It’s all the cute. Squee!

There are actually 5 full episodes on Youtube (and Hulu, too). If you’re like me and love round, adorable baby orangutans, you could watch them all this week! You only need to see the first episode to get started on the project, though. Pro Tip: On the video, press the little button with CC to turn on Closed Captioning. The narrator has a British accent and it helps our brains understand when we read the words as we hear them!

Step 3 - Your Project


Build an Orangutan Jungle School Model

  • Model Materials:
    • I suggest raiding your recycling bin!
    • Thick cardboard is a good base. Have a grown up help you cut it if you need to.
    • Cereal boxes are good for buildings or bridges or anything else because it’s easier to cut.
    • Small branches from trees (I cut mine from outside to really make it feel like a jungle!)
    • Small rocks or dirt
    • Scissors
    • Markers
    • Paper
    • Anything else that you find around your house and is OK with your adult humans…
  • Build a model of Jungle School out of your recycled supplies!
      • Channel your inner orangutan and go work on this outside!
      • In your model, you could include:
        • Drawings or printed pictures of orangutans
        • Nursery for the infant (baby) orangutans
        • Hospital (aka clinic)
        • Play structure for babies to practice climbing, kind of like the one at your school!
        • Jungle area for older orangutan groups to learn jungle skills
        • Think about adding details like fruit in the trees, a teacher, a wheelbarrow, a coconut, etc
  • Spend at least 30 minutes building today, and if you want, do more work on your model tomorrow!

Step 4 - Share


Share with someone you love!

Share with someone you love and maybe with Nerding, too! You could choose anyone, but today’s recommendation is to call a grandparent (or older family member or friend) that doesn’t live at your house, and tell them about your project!

  • Possible things to talk about:
    • What did you learn?
    • What did you build?
    • What problems did you run into?
    • How did you solve them?

Step 5 - Go Deeper


Optional Extension Activity: Do some additional research!

  • Why are orangutans critically endangered? 
  • What else can we do to protect them?
  • Micah also wants to know if they are called orangutans because someone once said “Those apes look Orange and Tan” and were once called the “Orange and Tan” apes. When said out loud quickly, that does sound like orangutan. Could this be a real thing? Let us know in the comments below if he is just being silly or there could be truth to this. (Ms. Westmoreland says, “Um, no….that’s not a thing.”)
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