Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Educational Activity: Outdoor Fun For The Birds

Written by Melanie from A Year of Jubilee Reviews for

Our move to Kentucky midyear put us behind schedule in our homeschooling for the term, at least in what this Mom wanted to see accomplished. I want to continue our studies a few days a week into the summer. Any more than that and I think there may be a mutiny! I don’t want the kids to miss the beautiful summer by being cooped up inside either though. So why not incorporate some of our learning into outdoor fun!

With the move just 3 hours south, I have still noticed several birds that I don’t recognize, birds that I hadn’t seen on our farm in Ohio. Bird watching is a global hobby enjoyed by all ages. A perfect outdoor fun project with learning and science in the mix!
Brainstorming with the kids we came up with some things we need/want for our bird watching adventure:

1. Bird field guide
2. Binoculars
3. Journal for note taking and illustrating birds we find
4. Bird Feeder to draw the birds in
5. Bird seed
6. Camera

A trip to the library for us yields a plethora of bird books including a field guide for birds specific to KY! Just remember to return then in 2 weeks (note to self). 

Binoculars are going to be very helpful for us looking out the back door and toward the river at the birds in the trees. I also have a pair of adult binoculars that the older kids can use. Gummy Lump has Happy Giddy Binoculars that will help the little ones feel the bird watching mojo!

Happy Giddy Binoculars
Nature notebooks can be as simple as a 3 ring binder with blank paper to get kids started. A blank hard-back journal works nicely too especially for a kid that really enjoys nature and will utilize it for other nature projects. There are even books available for bird walks like the Take A Walk Backyard Bird Walk, by Jane Kirkland. This book is full of information but it also leaves a side margin for you to put your own field notes in. 

We are blessed to have a mini forest and trees galore on our property which naturally draws the birds into the yard, but not quite close enough for photos. If you are in a neighborhood you may want to try to attract them by...feeding them of course! (Draws me to neighbors homes, it will work for birds as well!)

There are many different kinds of bird feeders and really you can choose a generic one that fits all types of wild birds. This will give you more bird visitors which will help you fill up your journal!
We chose a squirrel-proof one from Brome Bird Care. We don't have a lot of squirrels, but the same principle applies for keeping cats out of the feeder as well. 

Is all seed created equal? According to our bird books, no, they are not. There is a lot of fillers in some of the wild bird feed mixes. One of the best mixes to try is black oiled sunflower seeds. We decided to purchase some of the less expensive seed to draw the birds to the feeder and once we know which they are flocking to, we will switch and get a higher quality feed. 

Don't forget the camera. It is difficult to take photos of birds far away unless you have a really super camera. This is why we put our feeder on our porch, to aid in capturing the photos of the birds. Taking photos will help the kids see the bird in greater detail to sketch it and look for it in the field guides. Also there are many places on the internet where you can study up on how to draw birds!

I watch as the kids begin to learn the bird names in our new town, and as the summer progresses and we go out to the park or nature walks, we continue to add to the field journal and knowledge of the birds around us. The activity is getting us outside, exercised, and family bonded with  nature. Can't beat that kind of outdoor fun!

Melanie Schemanski, is the founder of A Year of Jubilee Reviews with an assortment of reviews, giveaways, and life stories. Melanie is a homeschooling Mama of 6 blessings, ranging from ages 4 to 17.. toddler to teen! She has been through the ages and stages and they just keep on coming. With years of experience under her belt she wanted to start sharing some of the insights she has found in raising her 5 boys and 1 girl through blogging.  She has loved writing since her first journalism class in high school and is excited to have found a niche to share her heart.


Roxy said...

Love this. Would be a great complement to my hummingbird feeder!

Mama Nibbles said...

I've got a whole kit of birdwatching stuff, I should pull it out to share with my kiddos too!

Close to Home said...

kudos to you and homeschooling your kids. What a great activity for us to try this summer

Sofia said...

I've always wanted a bird house and I love the one you reviewed! I love that is squirrel-proof!!

MamaMunky said...

Great ideas!! My son loves looking at the birds. I'm going to pin this so next summer we can do it all. He's only two so I think it is a little too advanced for him now. Thanks for all the ideas!

Baby Supplies said...

This is a great idea. By this kids can enjoy their leisure time along with that they can help the kids as well as they can learn to help others. By this single task kids will get multiple benefits.

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