"One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar." ---Helen Keller

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bird Watching

Last weekend, I was driving by Pensacola Bay when I noticed a group of senior citizens all huddled up with their binoculars along the shore. I immediately told my family that I wanted to do that kind of thing when I retired. Their responses?, well... I think heard geeky in there somewhere. I think that is my future though:)

What does bird watching offer children in your science classroom?

Phyllis Whitin, in the article, First Flight,  has written about a  kindergarten classroom station/center that involves a yearlong scientific study using bird watching. She states that she chose bird watching to develop the students' awareness and appreciation of the natural world. (SC.K.N.1.2 Make observations of the natural world and know that they are descriptors collected using the five senses.).
 While participating in the station activities, the students learned how to observe closely, keep records, use science resources, and collaborate with each other. The following is a summary of what she did, and the results of her work.

 She set up a "bird station" in the classroom by placing a bird feeder right outside the classroom window. In the classroom near the window, she added...

In the beginning, the students used blank paper to draw what they saw, and then used the books as reference guides. She describes how most of the initial visitors were finches, but one day a cardinal stopped by.

*This part had me  remembering my own experiences in the classroom at Kenwood, where I had my own bird feeder outside the classroom. The children loved it. The birds visited regularly and at times we just had to stop as a class and watch. I shared with the students my particular love of cardinals. Well, the illusive cardinal finally showed up, however I was absent. Oh, how the kids were excited to tell me the cardinal had visited our window. What fun!!!

In the article, Ms. Whitin describes how she signaled for the children to stop and listen, because "scientists listen." After it flew away, she had the students describe what they saw and heard. The cardinal's visit began the process of "I want to know more!

By mid fall, she added a daily sharing piece from their drawings and from their research in the bird books. Can't you just see an excited bunch of kindergarteners ready to share what they are finding in the bird books? This became a very important piece of the learning process, because it helped pique the curiosity and gave them time to talk and teach each other. (LACC.1.W.3.8 With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.) 

She shares how the students taught each other how to use the Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds. With the use of this reference guide, their knowledge of bird characteristics increased, and they shared with each other. (SC.K.L.14.3 Observe plants and animals, describe how they are alike and how they are different in the way they look and in the things they do.)

Guest speakers were invited and nature walks were taken. The amount of learning that took place that year in the classroom from their observations is quite amazing. You can read the entire article in the book, Start Young! Early Childhood Science Activities. Their observations, research skills, descriptions were remarkable by the end of the year. They had become good little scientists.

Backyard Bird Feeder


No comments:

Post a Comment