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We are working our way through our science curriculum, NOEO Biology 2, and just completed our bird unit. NOEO Biology 2 is a complete science curriculum and does not require anything extra, but I like to add in related activities whenever possible. Kids can learn so much from hands-on activities.
These bird unit activities will go along with any bird unit.
Bird Unit Activities
Examine a bird nest
We were very fortunate to find a nest just outside of our kitchen window when we moved into our new home last spring. It was located in a prime spot to peek on the eggs and mama bird without disturbing her. We even timed it just right (or stalked the bird window) and got to see the eggs hatch! That alone was exciting, but it also meant we had a nest to examine up close. After we were sure the birds had vacated the nest permanently, I saved the it for a few months until we were studying birds.
I brought the nest inside and let the kids examine it first with their eyes. They sketched it in their science notebooks. Then I let them explore it with their hands. Our nest was composed of a good deal of mud, so it crumbled quite a bit once we started touching it.
Different birds build different types of nests. It was interesting seeing how our robin nest was constructed.
Take a nature walk and see if you can find an empty nest. We found another little bird nest in a holly bush near our house. We did not touch it because we didn’t know if any birds are living in it at the moment, but it was still neat to see.
Conduct egg experiments
We made a naked egg by putting a raw egg in a mason jar, filling the jar with vinegar, and leaving it alone for a few days. I didn’t tell Hannah and Ben what would happen. They both hypothesized that the acidic vinegar would dissolve the egg-shell. They were right!
The exploratorium has step by step directions and the science behind why this happens. It is always a good idea to explain WHY an experiment works the way it does.
Beth of 123homeschool4me.com has put together a list of 14 amazing egg science experiments. You can do as many as your time permits! Thankfully, eggs are a pretty inexpensive science material.
Dissect owl pellets
Our NOEO science kits came with an owl pellet to dissect and I ordered a few more from Amazon so that each kid had his or her own. I gave each child a pair of latex gloves, a sterilized owl pellet, a paper plate, tweezers, and a bone chart. The kids carefully deconstructed the owl pellets and separated the bones. Then they used the bone chart to try to determine what the owl ate. Both of my kids determined that their owl pellets contained small rodent bones.
The owl pellets are sterilized and dry so it really isn’t as disgusting an activity as it sounds. This is an excellent way to reinforce lessons on the food chain. Examining owl pellets are one of my favorite bird unit activities.
Create ribbon nesting stations
Birds often use materials they find lying around in their nests. Normally that is just twigs and grass. We decided to give the birds colorful ribbon to adorn their nests. This activity is simple, quick, and uses up leftover Christmas ribbon and egg cartons from the recycling bin.
Here are step by step instructions to create a ribbon nesting station. These directions assume that you will hang it in a cage for a pet bird, but we hung our ribbon stations outside on a few trees. Hannah has already seen a few birds pulling out ribbons!
This is a way to add art to your bird unit activities.
Create a bird feeder
We did not do this activity because we live in an area with bears. Our local wildlife specialists stress not to put out bird feeders because they can attract wildlife…including bears. It seems they love all of the nuts and seeds as much as the birds. Seeing a cougar in our backyard was enough wildlife for me, so we sat this one out. It is a lot of fun if you don’t share a backyard with wildlife that could eat you though!
Louise at MessyLittleMonster.com has a wonderful tutorial on creating bird feeders using cookie cutters. Her recipe is nut-free (as long as your bird seed mix does not contain nuts) so it might be an option for kids with nut allergies.
What are your favorite bird unit activities?
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