Friday, January 16, 2015

Unit Studies :: Birds

Over the last 8 weeks in 2014 we have been engaged in learning about birds--specifically birds native to Georgia. We finished up this unit studies before the holidays but I didn't take a moment to post what we did. Before getting into the new units for this year, I thought I'd share what we did in the event you and your children might be interested in doing this for your nature study.

I grew up around an uncle and aunt who enjoyed nature. My aunt knows everything there is to know about birds--their markings, their calls, their favorite foods, the time of year to view them, etc., etc. She didn't do so much in direct instruction with me--I learned by simply being with her while she watched, fed, read and talked aloud about them. Through our study, my love for bird-watching was reawakened.

I did some research online and in the library and found a nice list of resources that we used as we did daily observations of the birds in our backyard. I was surprised by just how many visitors we have on a daily basis. The have also enjoyed watching them and learning to identify them by sight and sound.

Here are some of the birds that have be in our backyard:
  • Mourning Doves
  • Chickadees
  • Blue Jays
  • House Sparrows
  • Wrens
  • Cardinals
  • Brown Thrashers
  • Cow Birds
  • A pair of Barred Owls
  • Crows
  • Robins

We did some of our learning with the homeschooling community to which we belong. During that time we shared in reading several of the books together and discussing the habits of birds overall, their habitats, predators, migration patterns, their mating and nesting rituals, how they build nests and how their beaks and feet assist them in the type of food they eat and places they live. It's been fun for many of the other children as well as my own.

My eldest did her study on Jays--the Blue Jay, Green Jay and Stellar's Jay to be specific.
My middle daughter focused on Mourning Doves and The Boy learned more about the Broad-winged Hawk.  One of the interesting things we all did learn is that each of my children choose a bird that is part of a specific food chain. Hawks eat Blue Jays; Blue Jays eat Mourning Doves. Who knew?

Here are some pictures of our time working together and of our lap-books:

Front cover shows a Blue Jay

First section focuses on the Steller's Jay

The next section looks at the Green Jay

The inner-most part focuses on
the main bird--Blue Jay

Each of the mini-books holds
key information

Another flip book inside the lapbook

Back cover again shows Blue Jay

The Mourning Dove Lapbook

First section has photos of the birds:
male, female, juvenile

The inside section holds several mini-books

Each mini book contains
pertinent information

Another mini book

Yet another mini-book

The back holds a general look at parts of birds

Front cover for Broad-winged Hawk Lapbook

First sections hold pictures of male,
female & juvenile

Inside section holds the mini books

Look inside one of the mini-books

Back cover
As you can see, each one of their lapbooks contains several of the same parts but each is put together differently. Each of the children got to figure out their own layout and order. I liked seeing their creativity in the all while we all learned more about birds.

Here are some of the resources that I used with my children and with the group:

  • Little Green by Keith Baker
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • The Nightingale by Jerry Pickney
  • Birdsong by Audrey Wood
  • Dylan: the eagle-hearted chicken by David Harrison
  • The Birdwatchers by Simon James
  • Welcome, Brown Bird by Mary Lyn Ray and Peter Sylvada
  • Vulture View by April Sayre and Steve Jenkins
  • Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell and Megan Halsey
  • About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill
  • How Do Birds Find Their Way? by Roma Gans
  • A New Duck: The Life Cycle of a Bird by Pamela Hickman & Heather Collins
  • These Birds Can't Fly by Allan Fowler
  • From Egg to Robin by Jan Kottke
  • Bird Babies by Catherine Veitch
  • Birds of Prey by Jill Bailey
  • The Bald Eagle by Patricia Ryon Quiri
  • Backyard Birds of Summer by Carol Lerner
  • Backyard Birds by Jonathan Latimer, Karen Stray Nolting and Roger Tory Peterson
  • City Birds by Heather MacLeod
  • Big Birds by Lucille Recht Penner
  • Wild Wings: Poems for Young People by Jane Yolen
  • Watch Me Make a Bird Feeder by Jack Otten
Online Resources:

We've learned an awful lot during this time and will continue to watch for them throughout the rest of the year.

Have you done a study of birds? What things did you and your children learn together? What resources did you use? Do share in the comments below. If you haven't yet done a Bird Unit, perhaps this will inspire you to do so. There is so much to learn right in your backyard. (smile)

Be well.

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