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5 Easy Ways To Teach Children About Birds.

Have you noticed any beautiful and vibrant birds this spring? I saw some, so beautiful, I just had to look them up to find out what they were. Here are 2 that caught my eye this year:

Indigo Bunting

The all-blue male Indigo Bunting sings with cheerful gusto and looks like a scrap of sky with wings. Sometimes nicknamed "blue canaries," these brilliantly colored yet common and widespread birds whistle their bouncy songs through the late spring and summer all over eastern North America. Look for Indigo Buntings in weedy fields and shrubby areas near trees, singing from dawn to dusk atop the tallest perch in sight or foraging for seeds and insects in low vegetation. - The CornellLab of Ornithology


American Redstart


A boldly patterned warbler of second growth woods, the American Redstart frequently flashes its orange and black wings and tail to flush insect prey from foliage. - The CornellLab of Ornithology

With this new found knowledge, (and believe me, I'm a novice with birds!) I thought, "How can I use this information to help educate my children?". After all, school's out and learning must go on, right? Fortunately, I have the 'Young-Sponge' or 'What's That!?' classification of kids of the "Toddler" and "Young Child" varieties. They take everything you tell them as TRUTH. This reminded me, there are so many easy ways to give them more knowledge as we conduct our days, if we just remember to do so. Here are a few easy ways to teach them about birds! 


Teaching children about birds.

1. Name the Birds as You See Them 
Rather than merely saying "That's a bird". Say it's a Robin, a Cardinal, a Bluejay, an American Redstart for goodness sake. They take it in and recognize it just as much as their fruits and vegetables. It's an assumption that they can often surprisingly handle. In fact, when speaking of animals, I believe they actually take even more notice, as it's a living, breathing interest in the world they can feel emotion toward.

2. Play Pretend
"Mommy! Look at me!! I'm a Bunny Rabbit!" Take advantage of that! Try to get get them to play pretend with a variety of species. They will also start to understand the relationships between species. "I'm a Blue Jay, and I'm going to get you little Finch!" "Well I'm going to fly faster than you Blue Jay!". "Watch out for the Owl! She'll eat us all up!". These are violent examples, but isn't that natures way?  Pretend you're migrating down to a warmer place for the winter. "See you later, we'll back next spring!". Pretend to eat berries or worms, remembering that it's the Robin's that like worms, but Finches prefer berries.  Did you ever notice how Doves and Chickens like to take dust baths, but other birds prefer water baths?  Tell them whatever you know and have fun with it. 

3. "I Spy Color!"
We're all familiar with "I Spy" on long road trips. Try focusing it on bird types and colors. How many blue birds can you find? How many brown birds do you see? This focuses them in on the physical differences. Which do you like the best?

4. Draw
For kids that have a good grasp of drawing, this is the fundamental key to learning about science and nature. Draw what you see as literally as you can, then label it. Do you know all the body parts of the bird? Draw the environment around them too. Where do they live? In a tree? In a bush? What do they eat? What eats them? Pretty soon you've scientifically documented an entire ecosystem on paper. Pretty cool!
 
5. Go QUACK, SQUAWK, CHEEP AND CHITTER!
As we are all too aware, children love noises!! Birds do too. If we listen closely, they really do all sound different. Take moments to listen and copy cat the noises just like a Mocking Bird! I wonder what they're all talking about? Are they fighting? Playing? Falling in love? What does it sound like? Ironically, it will give them a chance to sit and listen. 

Happy bird watching!



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