Standards Correlations

R.1, R.3, R.4, R.6, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.6 

Learning Objective

Students will read a nonfiction article and identify text evidence to support conclusions drawn from the story.

Key Skills

text evidence, text features, vocabulary, central idea and details, inference, cause and effect, problem and solution, interpreting text, critical thinking, making connections, informational writing

Complexity Factors

Purpose: The article explains how deforestation harms orangutans and how a group in Borneo helps them.

Structure: The text contains narrative and informational passages.

Language: The language is conversational. Difficult words are defined in the vocabulary box. 

Knowledge Demands: Some knowledge of how humans use natural resources will be helpful.


Lexile Level: 600L-700L

Guided Reading Level: R

DRA Level: 40

Lesson Plan: Can This Baby Orangutan Be Saved?

Essential Questions

  • Why are rainforests valuable?
  • How do humans affect the natural world?

Literature Connection

Novel: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Note: This is the first book in a series of four.)

1. Preparing to Read 

Preview Text Features (15 minutes)

Have students open their magazines to page 8. Guide them to preview the text features by asking the following questions:

  • Read the title and the subtitle, and look at the photo on page 8. What do you see in the photo? What do you think is happening? The photo shows a group of women standing behind a truck. Three of them are holding orangutans; one has a walkie-talkie. The truck has a sticker that says “Four Paws.” Maybe the women work to help animals. They’re probably helping the orangutans.
  • Look at the map on page 10. Read its caption. What are the three countries that make up the island of Borneo? Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei.
  • Look at the photos at the top of page 11. Read their caption. What do the photos show? The larger photo shows a forest being cleared. There’s a pile of tree trunks. The smaller photo shows palm oil farms, which take the place of forests.

Preview Vocabulary (10 minutes)

  • Point out the vocabulary box on page 10. Read the words (deforestation, orphans, authorities, imitating, enforce) aloud and discuss the definitions.
  • Play the Vocabulary Slideshow.

Build Background (10 minutes)

Make a Plan for Reading  (5 minutes)

Before students start to read, walk them through a reading plan:

  • Set a purpose for reading: Tell students that they’ll find text evidence in “Can This Baby Orangutan Be Saved?” that shows how humans harm and help orangutans.
  • Point out Pause and Think boxes. Tell students they can check their understanding of what they’ve read by answering these questions.
  • Point out the activity on page 13 and tell students they will complete it after reading. Tell them to keep the Think About It! question at the bottom of the page in mind as they read.
  • Tell students that as they finish each section, they should think about how the text features on the page (e.g., photos, captions, and section headings) relate to what they’ve just read.

 2. Reading and Unpacking the Text

Guide students to read the article. Once they understand it well, discuss the following close-reading and critical-thinking questions.

Close-Reading Questions (15 minutes)

  • Why can’t baby orangutans survive in the wild without their mothers? (cause and effect) Baby orangutans can’t survive alone in the wild because they spend about seven years learning skills from their mothers. They learn how to find food, swing through trees, and build a nest to sleep in. Without these skills, they might starve to death or be killed by predators.
  • The author suggests that you can help orangutans by writing to companies that use palm oil in their products. How would this help orangutans? (problem and solution) Orangutans depend on the rainforest for food and shelter. When rainforests are cut down to make room for palm oil farms, that harms orangutans. That’s why companies should pay attention to how their palm oil is produced. If it’s produced in a way that doesn’t harm rainforests, that’s good news for orangutans. 
  • The author writes that Gerhana’s “human moms and dads” will be helping him. What does she mean? (interpreting text) She means that Gerhana’s human caregivers at the Forest School will teach him the skills he needs to live in the wild. Baby orangutans learn by watching their mothers. Since Gerhana lost his mother, he’ll learn by watching humans.

Critical-Thinking Questions (10 minutes)

  • Look at the sidebar “Why We Need Rainforests” on page 12. Which of the facts in the infographic do you find most surprising? Why? (critical thinking) Answers will vary.
  • Would you want to work at the Forest School as a caregiver to young orangutans? Why or why not? (making connections) Sample answers: Yes, helping orangutans is important work. These animals suffer because of humans, so it’s our responsibility to help them. Or: No, it sounds like difficult work. Workers had to travel six hours to pick up Gerhana and then work around the clock to feed him and keep him alive. And now they’ll have to teach him skills for years to come.  
  • Why do you think orangutans are released into the wild after they’re cared for and educated at the Forest School? (inference) Orangutans belong in the wild, not in captivity. The Forest School helps orangutans in need, teaches them the skills they need to survive, and then releases them so that they can live out their lives in nature. 

3. Skill Building

  • Have students pair up to complete the text evidence activity on p. 13. As a class, discuss students’ answers and the Think About It! question.
  • Use our Central Idea and Details Skill Builder, available in a higher and lower level version.  (Click here to see all your Skill Builders.)
  • Writing prompt: Imagine that you’re writing the “About Us” page for the Forest School’s website. In a few sentences, sum up the group’s purpose.

Learn-Anywhere Activity

An enrichment activity to extend the learning journey at home or in the classroom

Write an Acrostic Poem

Gerhana’s story shows how greatly humans can affect animals. To make sure you remember the story, retell it in a creative way. In an acrostic poem, the first letters of the lines spell a word. Read the example below. Then write your own GERHANA poem:

  • Gerhana could
  • Easily have died with no
  • Relatives to help him.
  • He was only a baby. But the
  • Authorities had a plan.
  • Nice people came
  • And rescued Gerhana. 

ELL Springboard

Use common idioms found in this story.

Some expressions in the story may be new to ELLs. Below are four expressions, their meanings, and questions to help students use them in sentences.

  • So orphans like Gerhana are usually doomed.” To be doomed means a bad outcome is certain to happen. What might make the captain of a ship say, “We’re doomed”? 
  • “… the school’s caregivers sprang into action.” To spring into action means to do something suddenly and quickly. On a lazy Sunday, what would make you spring into action?
  • “They worked around the clock to feed Gerhana…” To work around the clock means to work all day and all night. Who’s more likely to work around the clock: an emergency room doctor or a dentist?
  • “Preuschoft isn’t surprised that he’s bouncing back.” To bounce back means to return to normal. Think of a time when something went wrong for you. How did you bounce back?
Looking for more ELL support? Download our full lesson plan and scroll to p. 4 to find questions that will help your ELLs respond to the text at the level that’s right for them.

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