Bird Block


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.

8 thoughts on “Bird Block

  1. What a great find, Birds at Home. I just love the older gems we find along the way. One great animal book, although not of the same vintage or quaintness, I’m sure, is Keepers of the Animals by Caduto & Bruhac. Has lots of Native American stories and wildlife activities. Thanks for sharing about your bird block – what a great start to the year!

    • For some reason, I cannot connect with their books. Can you tell me why this is??? I don’t like the design for one . . . but maybe I will give that one another look.

      Thanks Jean.

  2. It was so gratifying for me to observe the ways that both you and Andrea took the bird study idea and ran with it and made it fit you and your kids! I LOVE the feathers – and I will keep my ear to the ground for a book for Jude:)
    xoxo Alison

    • The feathers were totally on the fly and they were great. I still have them hanging up. We went with Andrea and her kids to the bird sanctuary, although we only saw about 2 birds. Perhaps this was due to the fact that we were the LOUDEST bunch of birdwatchers ever! It was nice doing it at the same time.

  3. Lovely, as always. I am totally stumped on the animal book — somehow I feel that’s a challenge and maybe I’ll hunt something down (:

    By the way, I just found out a very cool way to display feathers. I’m going to take a picture of our school room and will make a note of it.

    Well, time to go and do those things that are always needing done. #1 on list: attitude adjustment (; Thanks for the respite.

  4. Pingback: Treading Water | Sure as the World

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