Inspired by Alison Manzer’s guidance in this post, we started our school year with a two-week block on birds. My goal was to study something fun together while getting back into a school day rhythm. We began each day by going outside and quietly listening to the birds outside our back door. We would then venture off to one of the surrounding hayfields to observe birds flying and perching. We cleaned and filled our bird feeders. We studied nests, feathers and eggs. We read picture books on the couch, drew feathers at our desks and painted birds in the sky at the kitchen table. I kept the activity level high and the lessons relatively short. Binoculars were a big hit (Thanks G’Buddy!!) – scouting out nests in trees, looking at birds in flight and if I’m being completely honest, identifying the make and model of cars driving by on the main road. Although this was a short burst of a block, I’m hoping to continue studying birds throughout the year.
- Albert, Donna Joe Napoli
- An Egg is Quiet, Diana Aston
- The Boy who Drew Birds, Jacqueline Davies and Melissa Sweet
- Angelo, David Macaulay
- Birds at Home, Marguerite Henry (I purchased this book at a book sale because of the striking cover. However, when I noticed the author, I gave the book a deeper look. It is lovely beyond words. Scientific, yes, but so full of lively, life-giving pictorial images. I have been trying to find a similar book on animals to accompany Jude’s fables this year to no avail. Any suggestions? Alison?? Mama??)
- Birds of America, John James Audubon
- Gathered bird nests, feathers and eggs.
- Painted color studies of birds in the sky. (The challenge was not work with form but to use two colors and not have them touch.)
- Drew feathers.
- Modeled beeswax into eggs, turned the eggs into birds, and then the birds back into eggs (I did this at a Waldorf workshop about 3 years ago and still remember the experience. Modeling the bird from the egg and then back again is a powerful metaphor.)
- Listened to bird calls on cd and out in nature.
- Made nests out of yarn using these directions. Ours were only mildly successful; maybe we didn’t let them dry long enough before popping the balloons.
- Created a cool mobile with these fun printouts from the Toymaker.
- Took a field trip to a local bird sanctuary.