Summer Nature Activity: Bird Watching, Listening, and Learning
Help children learn to be keen observers
- Grades: PreK–K
SKILLS: Children will expand their vocabulary and knowledge of birds and build science skills as they utilize a variety of materials and technology to gather information about birds in their environment.
- chart paper and markers
- portable tape recorder
- small binoculars
- drawing paper and pencils
- clips or masking tape
- colored pencils
- books on birds (optional for older children)
IN ADVANCE: Collect an assortment of fiction and nonfiction books about birds to include in the science or library areas in the classroom. Invite children to bring in items they have at home or may have found outdoors that relate to the bird study. Consider scheduling a class trip to the aviary of a nearby zoo.
1 Explain to children that they will begin a research project about the types of birds that live in their environment. Engage children in a discussion about what research means. Prepare a sheet of chart paper with the heading "What We Know About Birds" and record children's responses. Prepare another sheet headed "What We Would Like to Learn About Birds" and record children's responses. Assist children in developing a timeframe, schedule, and itinerary for the study.
2 Provide a camera, tape recorder, and binoculars for children to use to observe and record information about birds in their area.
3 You may need to discuss rules and methods for observing birds. Emphasize the need to move slowly and quietly during this study.
4 Using cardboard, make a drawing board for each child. Attach a few sheets of drawing paper to each board with a large clip or masking tape. Provide children with pencils. During your outdoor studies, ask children to sketch the birds they see. Take along colored pencils that children can use to sketch.
5 Invite children to gather information about the birds they are observing. Encourage them to write or dictate their daily research.
For younger children: Ask children to consider how it might feel to be a bird. Give them the opportunity to move about the room as birds in flight, birds landing on bushes, or birds searching the ground for food.
For older children: As you share the recommended picture books, direct children's attention to the differing physical characteristics of the birds. As children watch for birds, see if they can recognize any of them from the pages of the books.
Divide children into small groups. Ask each group to choose a bird that they studied and work together to create a dance that depicts the bird's movements. Assist each group in choosing music or rhythm instruments to accompany their dance.