I did this birds teaching theme with my 5 and 6 year olds but you can adapt the ideas on this page to suit the kids in your class whatever their age!
Birds make a wonderful topic to use as a theme whatever time of year it is. In spring you can explore chicks and eggs, or discover migration habits in the fall.
Take a look at my feeding and nesting teaching ideas.
I began by making an imaginary play area for our birds teaching theme. We decided if we were going to attract birds to our outside space we needed somewhere quiet where we could sit and observe. So I got a rather large cardboard box from a nearby supermarket and started making a 'hide' A box meant that we could carry it outside if we wanted to do the real thing. Otherwise it could be a play area indoors.
We turned it on it's side, cut holes for the windows, covered it with bits of torn green paper [any kind will do] and fitted it out with a seating area. We then discussed what else we might need. They came up with the idea that binoculars would be good for seeing birds at a distance so that was our first task! We made a pair - see the arts section of this page.
There are so many child friendly cameras available these days I think it would be a shame to do a birds teaching theme without the kids learning how to use one.
If you are able to make an outside 'Hide', they can take their own pictures of the birds they see and make a great class display with the results.
They can tell the rest of the children what they saw during Circle time. Good for recognising colours for younger kids.
Older kids can research what the birds were that they photographed and make a diary.
Of course you will need to attract the birds into your outside space by providing some tasty morsels for them to eat. Peanuts and birdseed are the most usual ones to choose but you could also make your own Fat Balls or Tasty Pine Cones
See recipes below for a free download!
There are also some other recipes for tempting birds into your outside space further down the page!
Binoculars are dead easy to make with kids of any age. All you need is 2 tubes . I used a paper towel roll cut into 2 equal pieces.
They can paint or stick little bits of paper onto the the tubes to make them look more realistic, then tape them together and bingo you have a pair of binoculars for your birds teaching theme!
You can of course also provide a real pair of binoculars!
Want to bring a bit of history into your birds teaching theme?
Why not tell the kids about pens of bygone days when people used to write with feathers.They called them ' quills'
Let your class have a go at writing and painting with a feather using different coloured paints instead of ink.
They could draw the outlines of birds with the feather and use crayons or felt tips to fill in the rest. They could cut their birds out, name them and put them in the 'hide' as reference.
And what about telling the children the story of Icarus who flew too close to the sun and melted the wax in his feathers?
Why not add some bird seed to home-made play- do for your birds teaching theme?
It gives a different texture to the usual smooth play-do and encourages descriptive talk amongst the children.
How to make it:
You will need:
Mix it all together and you have your birdseed play-do.
Yes really!! The kids will love it!
Show the children a real birds nest [or a picture of one] Discuss with them what it is made of. What shape it is and why do they think it is that shape? What if it was square would that be as good?
Then tell them that they are going to pretend to be a bird and make a real BIG birds nest out in the school grounds.
Take them outside and have them collect anything from around the grounds that they think will make a good nest.They can either do this as a class or they can make lots of smaller ones in groups.
Don't forget to take lots of photos for your birds teaching theme bulletin board!
This became a daily playtime activity with my class for a long time after and was particularly good after the grass had been cut! The gardener was very impressed as it saved him collecting it!
This really concentrates the mind! You need some hard boiled eggs, some careful children and preferably a grassy outdoor space. The softer the fall the longer the eggs will last!
You can do this as a class group and have the kids form a circle. Give several of the kids an egg and ask them to pass it to the person next to them . Let them have several goes just passing it and then by making the circle a little bigger so there is a bit more room between each child get them to gently toss the eggs round the circle. You can make it as adventurous as you like, even tossing the eggs across the circle to the count of 3. Carry on having fun until the eggs have really had it and fall apart!
It'a a fun activity for your birds teaching theme and really improves the kids catching skills!
More ideas on my Easter Activities page!
The kids loved this game. You could easily incorporate it as part of your sports day races as it causes a lot of hilarity amongst the spectators!
I gave the kids some large balls and asked them to put them between their knees and walk [or wobble like a penguin!] They all found it a lot easier to jump but this wasn't allowed. Penguins don't jump!
You could try it with smaller balls too. More difficult and not so much fun though!
Can they think of other birds that walk like a penguin?
Not directly ' on track for our birds teaching theme' but allowed I guess, as birds like worms. This is a fun way of enticing the humble worm out of their subterranean home and into the world of our feathered friends!!
I call it dancing because this is exactly what we do.
We chose a place in our grassy play area where we thought there might be worms hiding. We tried to listen for them by putting our ears down on the ground. Some children were sure they heard worms talking to one another!!
Spot picked. We then did a little stamping dance on the same spot and waited for the worms to appear!
I was surprised how long it took so if your kids start losing interest tell them to keep going because those worms will show themselves sooner or later.
Success? Put them in a jar filled with garden soil and watch what they do or give the birdies a real tasty Sunday dinner!
These cereal nests are dead easy to make and have the added attraction that they are edible too. So a snack time treat perhaps for your birds teaching theme
All you need is:
1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water or the chocolate will go lumpy.
2. Crush the shredded wheat in another bowl and when the chocolate has melted and is silky smooth add to the cereal and mix well.
3. Put a little of the mixture into each of the paper cake cases and press down firmly to make a nest shape.
4. Put in the fridge until set and then add the chocolate mini eggs to complete.
This is a fab activity to do with your kids for your birds teaching theme. They will love making it and the birds will love eating it! So an all win situation.
You will need to source some mouldy apples or apples that have been bruised. Green grocers will often give you these free of charge as they will only go in the trash can!
You will also need:
Armed with these ingredients and a group of kids, go outside with an old pie dish and get the kids to squash the apples with their feet! This bit they will love!
This done,spoon the apples into the pie dish, cover with a layer of porridge oats,peanuts and sunflower seeds and watch who comes to eat it.
Some birds are just a bit too shy to come to the bird table or feeder so this recipe is specially for them!
You will need:
Then all you have to do is to give the kids all the ingredients and allow them to stuff them into the baked potato. It doesn't matter what it looks like because frankly birds don't do pretty they just do tasty!
You must discuss with your children where you could put it away from cats and other animals but in a quiet place so the timid birds don't feel threatened.
You might like to compare what birds eat with what humans eat by including some of my food theme ideas too.
Yes you can make hard boiled eggs float! A fun science task for your birds teaching theme which will get the kids thinking!
Just pop a hard boiled egg in a mug of water and it will sink to the bottom. Add some salt, a spoonful at a time until the egg starts to float.
Why? Who knows? Ask the kids for their explanation or if old enough get then to look on the internet to find out why.
For teachers info, Things float more easily in salt water than in freshwater because the salt increases the density of the water. So by adding salt to the tap water in this experiment you make the density of the water greater than the density of the egg therefore allowing it to float. Got it?!!
Need more science ideas - try these preschool science activities.
Yes let's dissect owl pellets as part of our birds teaching theme!
As owls are a bird of prey they eat small mammals and birds and then they make pellets.
Pellets are the left overs of their lunch. Things like bones and bits of fur are coughed up after they have eaten the juicy bits!
You can find owl pellets on the ground below where owls sleep or perch. So look under trees, fences or poles. If you're lucky enough to have an empty, open, barn-like building in your school grounds take a look in there as owls often like to nest there
Once you have located an owl pellet, put it in a jar with some warm water and a little disinfectant. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes then tip it out onto a piece of newspaper. Gently pull it apart with a pair of tweezers or an old fork.
Perhaps you could get the children to draw or list all the things they found.
Make sure you get the kids to wash their hands afterwards!
There are some wonderful story books that you might like to use as a starter to your Birds Teaching Theme. One of my favourites is 'The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark' by Jill Tomlinson.
In this story the baby owl Plop is given human feelings and is afraid to leave the nest at night when its dark. This is a great topic to introduce during Circle time. How do the children overcome their fear of the dark? Do any of the solutions that Plop comes up with help them come to terms with their worries?
Another book I love is the one illustrated above.
Two Scarlet Songbirds by Carol Schaefer
This is a delightful story about Anton Dvorak.It tells how while listening to birdsong he was inspired to write 'The American Quartet'. Beautifully illustrated by Elizabeth Rosen.
This may be more suitable for older children but with a little explanation as to who Dvorak was it could be used as an introduction to classical music. Allow them to listen to the American Quartet and then brainstorm their thoughts and feelings. You could be very surprised by their reactions!
Songs are always a good way to get the children engaged and ready to learn.