Over the cold winter months the class and I would take walks around the neighborhood to get some fresh air. While we were on our walks the students started noticing the bird nests in the empty trees around the neighborhood. These nests brought a lot of discussions about birds, where they went during winter, and what happened in those nests we noticed in the trees. After a few days we headed back out with some sticks and plastic bags and we took down some of the old nests for inspection. They were fascinated by how the nests were built and the materials the birds used for building.
After all of this excitement about birds I set up a bird sensory bin for the students. I filled it with bird seed, nests, felt birds, and little wooden bird houses. I also found some fake bird eggs at the craft store. The sensory tub provided a new level of interest around birds, their life cycle, and their habitat.
I noticed that many of the children were taking the birds out of the sensory bin and lining them up along the edges and making up stories about the birds. After two weeks I removed the birds from the sensory bin and put them out on the table for further pretend play.
Through books we studied the life cycle of the bird. I offered another table invitation for baby chicks. I provided rice, little chicks, gems, and plastic eggs for exploring.
I created a bird puzzle from felt and then made labels for the bird puzzle. We worked on this puzzle as a whole group, and then I offered the puzzle as a table invitation for them to work on independently.
I also created this bird matching game. It was out on the tables for a few days, and then I put it in one of the learning trays for students to match up the types of birds.
The children were pretending to be birds during choice time, so I created this large bird nest. I used a kiddie pool, covered it with brown paper and filled it with shredded paper and large plastic eggs. I put this large nest up in the loft, just like a bird makes her nest up high and out of sight.
We created little paper bag birdies in their nests using brown paper bags and pom poms.
The children also made bird window art using tissue paper and contact paper.
During this bird study we re-read “Five Little Ducks” a number of times. I also have the felt board pieces to match this story, and the children have heard it before. To give them a chance to practice the story at home I offered this painting invitation. They painted their rocks different colors for the mommy and the five baby ducks. Then I added little eyes and a beak.
Each child got to take home their ducks to sing and practice the story at home.
We also painted wooden bird houses with acrylic paints to take home too!
Extending their Interest:
We created homemade bird feeders! These are the easy, old fashioned feeders: toilet paper rolls, peanut butter, birdseed, and yarn. We hung some of them on the trees by school and some children also took their bird feeders home.
It was almost as if the birds knew we were interested in them, because a robin made her nest right under the deck on top of the columns of the preschool. I was brave enough to take some pictures of her eggs for the kids. After the eggs hatched the children figured out if they stood on the chairs on the preschool patio they could see the chicks waiting for their mom to return with food. Just this week my T/TH group got to see the baby robins on the swing set, having just left their nest. They flew off and it was a hot topic for the group!
Displaying our Learning:
At the end of our discussion on birds the children put the life cycle of the bird in the correct order in their learning journals. Then they drew lines to connect each part of the life cycle. I dictated their understanding of the bird’s life cycle on the page for each child.