Questions and activity ideas for teaching the read aloud The Great Kapok Tree to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students

The Great Kapok Tree Read Aloud – Questions and Activity Ideas

questions and activity ideas for your 3rd, 4th , and 5th grade lesson plans for the Earth Day read aloud The Great Kapok Tree

The Great Kapok Tree is a compelling story that teaches about the importance of protecting the environment, particularly the rainforest. It makes a great 3rd, 4th, or 5th read aloud for Earth Day - or any time of year.

Below, find questions and activity ideas to use in your upper elementary lesson plans when reading Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree.

Summary of the Read Aloud The Great Kapok Tree

A man tires himself as he tries to chop down a kapok tree in the Amazon Rainforest. He falls asleep at the foot of the tree. As he sleeps, different rainforest animals and one indigenous child come and whisper in his ear, explaining why the tree is important and asking him not to chop it down. When the man wakes up, he picks up his ax to resume chopping. He hesitates and then leaves the rainforest without chopping down the Kapok tree.
The Great Kapok Tree
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04/11/2024 09:40 am GMT

Before, During, and After Reading Questions for The Great Kapok Tree

Use these questions while reading The Great Kapok Tree to your students.  Or, check out these before, during, and after questions that you can use with ANY book.  

Before Reading Questions

  • What is the setting of the story? What do you know about this setting?
  • How does the subheading help you better understand what the story will be about?
  • Do you think this will be a fiction or nonfiction story? Why?

During Reading Questions

  • What do you think the two men were talking about?
  • What figurative language have you noticed in this story? How does it make the story more interesting?
  • How do you think this story will end?  Why?

After Reading Questions

  • Who do you think the main character of the story is - the man, one of the animals, or the tree? Why?
  • What do you think the author wanted you to learn?
  • Which animal do you think provided the most convincing argument? Explain.

Activity Ideas to Use In Your Great Kapok Tree Lesson Plans

Try This Easy Leaf Experiment for Earth Day

In The Great Kapok Tree, the tree porcupines tell the man that the trees produce oxygen. This free, simple leaf experiment allows students to see oxygen bubbles from leaves. This is a great way to connect science and reading - and also makes a fun and easy Earth Day experiment.

Along with the experiment, celebrate nature by going outside and using one of these outdoor learning ideas. 

Learn More About the Rainforest

Help your students learn more about the rainforest with the resources below.

This free, downloadable book from the Rainforest Alliance includes photographs and tells about Romel, a Chachi Indian kid who lives near a rainforest.

This no prep resource includes a reading passage, comprehension questions, and a poster activity.

This video will take your students on a virtual field trip to the rainforest.

No Prep Rainforest Reading Comprehension and Passage for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students

Introduce or Review Figurative Language

This is a fantastic book for helping students better understand different types of figurative language.  The author, Lynne Cherry, incorporates figurative language throughout the book.

As you are reading, take time to point out the different ways the author uses onomatopoeia, similes, alliteration, and other types of figurative language.  Some examples from the book are below. After reviewing figurative language in the book, have students practice with these figurative language activity ideas or have them go on a figurative language scavenger hunt.


  • Whack! Chop!
  • hissed
  • buzzed


  • "heat and hum"
  • "snake slid"
  • "bee buzzed"
  • "sun streaming"
  • "strangely silent"


  • "feast your eyes"


  • "Spots of bright light glowed like jewels..."


  • throughout the book, the animals are given human characteristics, talking and reasoning with the man

Reading Response Activity

Use one of these reading response ideas to help your students think more deeply about the text. This book would be ideal for a one pager activity!

Want This Reading Response Freebie?

Reading Response Freebie for 3rd, 4th, 5th grade
4 reading response activities you can use today - 2 for fiction texts, 2 for nonfiction texts.

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