Birds! Birds! Birds!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a blog piece wholly on our homeschooling activities, but I really enjoyed our last month looking at birds.  We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that, while truly suburban, has a creek running through it, lots of mature trees, and lots and lots of wildlife.  There are times when the wildlife and our home clash-bats in the house happen at least quarterly, getting woken up in the middle of the night to the obscenely painful sound of racoons mating.  Then there are times when it’s cool.  We’ve seen foxes and deer run through the area (not together), raccoons, possums, the aforementioned bats, and lots and lots of birds.  Small song birds, to water birds like ducks, geese & herons, and large raptors like a Great Horned Owl, Red-Tailed Hawks, and Coopers Hawks.  We’ve also been lucky enough to have some birds nest close enough to the house that we have seen steps A-Z from eggs laid to eggs hatching.  With all that in mind I wanted to do a month unit on Birds.

And this is where I side-bar.  Do you ever have those, well, duh, moments?  That’s how I feel about homeschooling sometimes.  I was looking around online for homeschool lesson plans to recreate (ahem, steal) and discovered that the Ranger Rick/National Wildlife Federation has done a host of these teacher manuals on tons of natural science subjects called the NatureScope seriesNot only birds, but mammals, and even about habitats.  And then I found out our library had a lot of them.  I got the one on Birds and that was my aha moment.  There were at least 10 different lessons, activity pages, crafts, you name it.  The NatureScope series was developed for classroom and/or science center teachers, but also works well in homeschooling because there are very few activities that specify a certain number of kids.  It was great.

And so began our bird activities.  We took a neighborhood walk and looked for bird and/or squirrel nests.  We walked down to the little pond in our area and drew ducks.  I led the kids through an imagining exercise about being a hawk and we tried to see if our arms could match the wing-beats of some common birds (a robin can beat its wings 23 times over 10 seconds- can you?).  To wrap up our little adventure into birds I took the kids to the Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus and we attempted to hang another bird feeder in our yard.  The Audubon Center was great- a high class building with lots of trails that connect to Columbus’ other bike paths and a great kids room with a climbing “tree”, bird costumes, and an underground root system for play.  The bird feeder attempt- not so much.  Have I mentioned we have a lot of wildlife?  That includes squirrels.  Very aggressive squirrels who have manged to pop-out an entire suet cake out of one feeder and trash my little plastic-made-from-a-recycled-soda-bottle feeder (ok, the parts for the recycled soda bottle feeder WERE cheap, but still, it should have lasted more than 2 days.    To wrap up our unit on birds we made bird nest snacks for my sons PEEP class (Pre-school Environmental Education Program) at Brukner Nature Center.  Here’s the recipe:

BIRD’S NEST SNACK:

  • One pouch (3-4 C) of Fiber One Cereal
  • 1/2 C. Peanut Butter
  • 1 C. chocolate chips
  • Jelly beans to decorate.

Combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small saucepan on the stove and, stirring frequently,  melt until smooth.  Place the Fiber One on a bowl and pour chocolate/PB mixture over top.  Mix until the cereal is well coated.  Drop onto wax paper lined trays in small round clumps and top with 2-3 jelly beans.  Let cool until set and enjoy!

Here are some other photos:

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