Birders have always learned a lot from the birds they watch, but is it possible to build an entire homeschooling curriculum around birds? Absolutely! From pre-K lessons to high school subjects, birds can teach students not just about avian life, but about all types of topics at all different learning levels.
Birds in Lessons for Young Children
Birds can easily be incorporated into simple lessons by using them as features or objects in each lesson. Popular options include…
- Practicing counting by adding up birds, either in books, pictures, or out in the yard
- Using birds and bird-related objects (nest, feather, flying, etc.) as spelling words
- Rewriting bird names for handwriting practice
- Using birds to teach colors
- Creating an ABC list of birds
- Featuring birds in stories, such as picture books or writing bird-related stories
Birds in Lessons for Older Children
No matter what the subject, birds can be a part of it. This gives parents a great opportunity to adjust homeschool lessons to their children’s interests and still maintain detailed topic explorations.
Study bird anatomy, which birds prefer which foods and why, or how bird senses differ from human senses. Examine a feather under a magnifying glass, compare and contrast different types of birds, or study how birds have evolved from dinosaurs. Connect pollution and other environmental problems to bird conservation.
See also: 10 Best Foods for Bird Feeding
Learn the ranges and habitats of different bird species, study bird migration routes and the obstacles they must face along the way, or determine why some types of habitats support a much more diverse population of birds than others.
Count birds in a flock or learn estimation techniques for mixed flocks. Compare proportions of flock birds, calculate migration distances and speeds, or make measurements of birds. Or, calculate rates of bird population declines for different species.
See also: How to Accurately Count Flocks of Birds
Craft origami birds, draw, sketch, sculpt, or paint birds, or enjoy coloring pages about birds. Study bird courtship dances and make up your own. Study the art of famous birders like John James Audubon, analyze bird songs and music, or discover how birds and feathers have been part of fashion.
Read or write stories or poetry about birds from Chicken Little to The Raven to the owls of the Harry Potter books. Discover the birds mentioned in different mythologies of the world, or learn about the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays.
See also: Birds of Myths, Legends and Folklore
Learn the history of your state bird and why it was chosen. Discover how pigeons were used as messengers in World War I. Learn how birds were revered in ancient cultures from Egypt to South America. Try learning about the devastation of DDT, research biographies of famous birders, or study the history of popular birds like the bald eagle or the wild turkey.
Learn how to say bird and bird-related words in different languages. Research how birds get their scientific and common names. Study bird-related sayings such as “eats like a bird” and “as the crow flies” to discover their true meanings and how accurate they may or may not be.
See also: A Dictionary of Birding Slang Terms
Study the architecture of bird nests and why different birds make different nests, or build your own bird house. Or, learn about the dynamics of flight and compare how different birds. Why do sparrows and falcons fly differently, and why do some birds not fly at all?
Any of these bird-related lesson ideas can be combined to create a full, rich homeschooling curriculum.
See also: A Bird Nest is an Engineering Marvel
For more hands-on learning options, there are many great projects that can be done about birds. These are fun homeschooling activities that can be part of a larger overall unit on birds:
- Egg Drop: Construct a container that will safely cushion an egg dropped from a height. Compare how different container shapes and cushioning materials are more or less effective than others.
- Nest Building: Use natural materials to construct a bird’s nest. Test how effective the nest is under different conditions such as wind, rain, or added weight.
- Favorite Foods: Fill feeders with a different foods and seeds. Record which birds visit which feeders the most, and which foods prove most popular among different species.
- Species Identification: Hypothesize about which bird species or how many birds may be seen in a particular habitat. Conduct a survey to test that hypothesis.
- Pellet Dissection: Dissect and owl or raptor pellet (these can be ordered online) to determine which foods the bird ate and what type of prey it prefers.
- Species Report: Prepare a report about a favorite bird species and present it to practice public speaking.
- Bill Shapes: Study different bird shapes and the foods those birds prefer. Compare and contrast what birds eat which foods the most, and how their bills function as tools.
- Bath Bacteria: Study how long it takes algae or bacteria to grow in a bird bath. Experiment with different cleaning techniques to create a safe, clean bird bath.
There are many things we can learn from birds, and any homeschooling curriculum can include a wide variety of bird-related lessons to capture the imaginations of students of all ages.