Monday, May 17, 2010

Bird watching

    In many Montessori classrooms there are activities that have grown out of another and out of the children's need for independence.  A lovely example of this in our classroom is birdwatching.
 It started as the simple morning activity  of hanging the birdfeeder in a playground tree.  (There are always a few children who are dropped off early and this is one of the jobs they do to help get the classroom ready. )
The tree in question is right outside  one of the classroom windows making that window the perfect spot from which to watch the birds.

Once the feeder has been hung, it has to be filled with birdseed.  This means a trip  back into the classroom to get the bucket of birdseed.  There is a scoop in the bucket to make filling easier and the general rule of thumb is one scoop for the feeder and one scoop to be scattered on the ground. 

Sometimes, however, the bucket is empty and more birdseed needs to be mixed up.  On the shelf beside the bucket are three containers with different kinds of seeds (depending on what birds come to the feeder), a small mixing bowl and a soup spoon.  Each container has a number on it so the child knows how many spoons of each to put into the bowl.  Once the seeds are all mixed, the bowl is emptied into the bucket, the containers and tray are returned to the shelf and the business of filling the birdfeeder continues.

After a little while, word is spread amongst the neighbourhood flocks that breakfast has been served and the serious job of birdwatching can begin.  At first the children just peered out the window and watched the birds.  Then we added a field guide sheet with pictures of birds that can be found in the   Pacific Northwest.  After another little while, I remembered a small pair of binoculars I'd squirrelled away for just such an activity.
The laminated sheet and the binoculars allow the children to speculate on which bird they are seeing in the feeder and often a teacher is brought over to cast the deciding vote.

I am really looking forward to seeing where this stream of activities takes us next.  Perhaps to the easel to paint some of the birds that have been seen or maybe to the Moveable Alphabet to write a bird story?  I'll keep you posted.



Leptir said...

so interesting post about birds study :-)

Cynthia Dyer said...

Thanks! It has taught me a lot : )

Kathleen said...

Lovely work Cynthia. Do you allow them to go out on the porch by themselves to bird watch. I tried this. I think they liked the independence more than the bird watching. However, when they would see something of interest they were excited to come inside and share with everyone their news of what they saw.

Cynthia Dyer said...

The weather has been so icky that I haven't been able to leave the door open too often. We have, however, gone out a few times to observe the resident quails and bunnies.

I hope the weather gets better soon!