Friday, 9 May 2014

Hands-on learning about Australian Birds

There are so many reasons why I love interest-led learning and one of those reasons is that it gives us the freedom to learn through different opportunities that life presents us. If you have been follow me on facebook and instagram, you would know that my son recently discovered a birds nest in our garden. This has lead us on an amazing adventure and I am going to share with you our learning as well as my printable Australian Bird cards at the end of this blog post.
My sons love of birds and nature has been growing since earlier this year, he first discovered a blue-faced honey-eater in our garden. It's bright blue face caught his attention and captivated his curiosity.
This curiosity in the bird, lead him to research its name and learn more about it. I encouraged him to sketch this bird from a picture however I ended up sketching it for him (frustration to get it perfect) and he used water-coloured pencil to match the birds colourful features. 
Since then, my son has been observing birds and listening for their calls wherever we go. But it was just over two weeks ago that he discovered a birds nest in our garden and to our surprise, it had two little white eggs in it. The eggs hatched just two days later. 
Each day since discovering the nest, we have been observing the changes that have been taking place. Many questions have been asked as we observe the baby chicks growing and changing and this is such a wonderful part of learning and discovering. 

I encouraged my son to keep a daily nature journal to for him to record his learning, thoughts and ideas, putting them into words that he could share with his friends. Writing is not my sons favourite area of learning so there were days when I would model journal writing for him as he dictated his thoughts and observations to me. 
As we were observing the changes in the baby chicks, we were talking about the different parts of the birds. I used these parts of a bird cards and our Bird (DK Eye Know) (affiliate link) book to help my son with his learning.
I also used this printable bird template to make parts of a bird puzzle out of felt. I was inspired by The Pinay Homeschooler with this activity.
It wasn't long after discovering the nest that we saw the mama bird, who is a bar-shouldered Dove. We watched her fly in and out of the nest a number of times a day checking on her chicks and feeding them so we were able to see her different features and observe her behavior. We made a number of different sketches of the mama bird and used a range of different art mediums to colour our sketches. 
We have an abundant amount of wildlife in the Top End of Australia so it seems that there are birds everywhere we look. On our morning nature walks, we see many different birds and this has lead us into talking about bird types and their names. I purchased some Australian Animal Figurines from Mini Zoo and made some Montessori inspired cards to match our figurines. My young daughters (2yrs and 4yrs) both enjoyed discussing with me the names and features of these birds and using them in their imaginary play. 
My son took his learning of Australian birds further by using Steve Parish's Wild Australia Guide - Birds from Pascal Press to research bird further. My son wanted to know why we haven't hear the call of the Kookaburra since moving to the Top End. During his researched he found that Kookaburras don't live up here so we both learnt something new that day!
If you would like a copy of our Australian Bird cards, you can down load a copy from here.
Today, we observed that the baby birds were starting to get more feathers and were standing up walking around their very tiny nest so it will only be a matter of times before they can fly. I am so glad we weren't bogged down in a curriculum to miss the real learning that was happening right in our own backyard. 
For more activity ideas on birds and other animals, you can visit my pinterst board. 

This blog post has been linked up with:
 Montessori Nature The Weekly Kids Co-Op Hip Homeschool Moms


  1. What a fun way to learn! I love interest led activities, too! It's awesome that you have a nest to observe. We have some ducks in a creek in front of our house, and my son adores going to see them. He asks me to go every single day. Them and the sheep behind the house (we live in a bit of a rural community if you could tell). Anyway, I definitely need to involve those animals into our tot school activities, especially after seeing your lovely activities :)

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment and sharing your own learning with me. What a wonderful opportunity you have to add the learning of animals into your tot school activities! Hope you stop by again.

  2. Really love your ideas to get the kids involved - there is so much to share here!

  3. Hi
    I have just found you!
    I was thinking you know the butterfly template could you print it on overhead projector film and then cut them out?
    Thanks you sooooooooo much for sharing such creative and talented resources

    1. That sounds like a great idea Sue! If you have the right printer that can print onto transparency paper then I don't see why it wouldn't work. I'm happy to share my resources so you're most welcome.

  4. Beautiful blog i really like your idea its good to teach your kids with help of real images and your own art even you can ask your kids to draw such birds and animals whatever you want to teach, take printout get framed or make it memorable make sure to upgrade your Ink and Cartridge for batter and colorful results it is good for kids attraction.

  5. Thank you so much for the great cards. My Little Bean is interested in animals at the moment. We're starting with farm and zoo animals. I hope to move on to Australian animals later in the year.

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