In a Word, It's a Bird Classroom Activities
- Create a list of key words and definitions with students that they feel may be related to the topic of the program (For example, plumage, migration, preening, molt, contour feathers, feathers, crop, gizzard, territory).
- Direct students to bring in articles from newspapers or magazines that are related to birds and bird issues.
- Direct students to brainstorm all the things they think birds have in common.
- Ask students to write stories about favorite birds or about experiences they may have had with a bird.
- Discuss bird-watching as a hobby.
- Why is it so popular?
- What equipment might a bird watcher need? (pencil, notebook, bird field guide, binoculars, camera, or art materials)
- What are the qualities a good bird watcher must have? (an interest in birds, a keen eye, patience)
- How does the time of day or the time of year affect bird watching?
- Ask students to write about some “bird expressions.” (“bird-brained,” “eat like a bird,” “light as a feather,” “happy as a lark,” “wise as an owl,” “mad as a wet hen,” “like water off a duck’s back,” “birds of a feather flock together”)
- Read Jerry Palotta’s book The Bird Alphabet Book (ISBN-10: 0881064513). Direct each student to create a “Birds, A to Z” book using research materials to locate birds or bird-related words for his or her alphabet book.
- The National Wildlife Federation suggests planting a garden filled with various herbs and plants to provide a pleasant resting spot for the neotropical birds when they migrate to this area. These birds will enrich your community not only because of their beauty and song, but because they will help maintain an ecological balance in our urban environment. Consider planting a garden in your schoolyard or backyard as a public service to these valuable creatures.
Plant a wide variety of fruiting and flowering plants, plants that blossom or bear fruit from early spring to late fall. Berries provide carbohydrates and fats, particularly in the late summer and fall. Perennials and annuals are planted to provide nectar for hummingbirds. Hummingbirds visit the cardinal flower and pineapple sage. Always include plants that attract insects. Rotting wood as well as oaks, hickories, and maples are excellent choices. Native plants are wonderful to plant. They offer the best overall food sources, and the neotropical migrants will spread their seeds.
- Ask students to keep a “Birds in My Neighborhood” journal. The journal should include information about behavior, habitat, and structure. Students may include photographs or illustrations.
- Direct students to discuss the following questions:
- How are birds and reptiles similar? (legs are covered with scales, toes have claws, beaks are horny and toothless, and eggs are protected by a shell).
- What roles do birds play in the environment? What might happen if there were no birds?
- Direct students to research how the shape of an airplane’s wing imitates a bird’s wing.
- Ask students to create a new species of bird. Direct students to draw and color a picture of the new bird. Ask students to share with the class the bird’s behavior, sound, habitat, what it eats, etc.
- Ask students to research your state’s bird. Find out about the bird itself, why it was selected as the state bird, and the process for selection.
- Direct students to write to local wildlife agencies for information on bird habitats in your area. Students can design and build a schoolyard bird habitat. Enlist parents and local businesses for assistance.
Written by Louisa Sheldon NOAHS Center, National Zoological Park ; Alexandra Sangmeister NOAHS Center, National Zoological Park; Bill Buick NOAHS Center, National Zoological Park; Donald Peterson Fairfax County Public Schools