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What ideas for the winter months? Not sure how to do this? We just finished a bird count with the children. We were counting birds on a wire. The children charted how many birds they saw .

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Hi Laura, The children will love bird watching. We placed several bird feeders outside our back door. Using different seed in each. The children were watching every day to see who would come. We took pictures of the birds and gave them names. Then we used stickers to count how many times we saw them at the feeders. The last thing we added was a drawing board for the children to draw the bird they saw. We were very impressed on the details. color of beaks, legs and tail, and any special markings and color the birds had. We added special reference books for the children to look up the birds they see. This is a wonderful activity. Last year we noticed the hummingbirds, that led into another discovery....

Ellen Kahue said:
That sounds like a great idea.

Laura Lamarre Anderson said:
I am fairly new to teaching and very new to bringing nature into weekly lessons. My students are second (or third) language learners in grade 1-4. For the past month I've brought plants in for observation, but this week (if the rain stops) we'll head outside to search for spring. I'm hoping to make connections to what we have been learning about language and to look for nouns, verbs and adjectives in the park.
I was focusing my attention on the ground, but now am inspired to add bird watching.
Thanks, Nancy. I've been thinking of putting up bird feeders. I get a little resistance from some at school who say the kids in the neighborhood will just knock them down. I guess that might happen, but it's worth a try. The descriptive language we inspire could convert some other teachers to adding the outdoors!
THANKS for the resources. I've bookmarked both site for weekend reading.
Hi John,
I love writing, so journals have always been a part of my lessons. Now, we'll start bringing them outside with us. I'm thinking of turing a preposition lesson into a walk - going around, over, through, etc. - Thanks for the inspiration!

John Thielbahr said:
Hi Laura,
Don't forget to have your children write about what they see in nature...perhaps a journal, using the language and grammar lessons you are working on. They can even practice math counting birds, and draw something cool in nature, either looking up, down or all around. More than anything, they need to just explore and discover. Have fun. John

Susan "Susie" Mote said:
Hi Laura!

It sounds like you have quite a challenging job and I commend you. My niece just found the most wonderful website with lots of information and ideas for school projects (including ideas for multi-lingual classes) and I thought you and the others might like to check it out. It's EastTennesseeWildflowers.com and it has a teacher's resource page with all kinds of cool "stuff" including birds, mushrooms and lichens, mammals, just to name a few.

Another good website is the Greatbackyardbirdcount.com, which has bird calls and also activities for kids.

I hope you will find these useful.
Susie Mote


Ellen Kahue said:
That sounds like a great idea.

Laura Lamarre Anderson said:
I am fairly new to teaching and very new to bringing nature into weekly lessons. My students are second (or third) language learners in grade 1-4. For the past month I've brought plants in for observation, but this week (if the rain stops) we'll head outside to search for spring. I'm hoping to make connections to what we have been learning about language and to look for nouns, verbs and adjectives in the park.
I was focusing my attention on the ground, but now am inspired to add bird watching.
How about "stick to the window" bird feeders? One year we made our own stick to the window bird house out of old milk jugs. I had the children gather all kinds of wild things from outside (moss, pine, feathers, etc...) Then, we cut and covered the container with Great Stuff from Lowes. We sprinkled all the goodies all over so it looked natural and when it dried it was very lightweight and easy to handle. We used window sticktights to secure it to the window and guess what? We had a Carolina Wren nest in it the first year! The best part was that we could spy on the bird making the nest at our window. I will see if I can find pictures of how we did this... It may take some digging.

Laura Lamarre Anderson said:
Thanks, Nancy. I've been thinking of putting up bird feeders. I get a little resistance from some at school who say the kids in the neighborhood will just knock them down. I guess that might happen, but it's worth a try. The descriptive language we inspire could convert some other teachers to adding the outdoors!
Ellen I like your idea about a stick to the window bird house. We will have to try this. We just finished painting our wall that faces our back door with metal paint. I painted a tree with just limbs, and roots. Our goal is for the children to place the birds they see outside on the tree where they spoted the bird. With the roots, we plan to add mushrooms, mice, ants, worms. all magnetic. This could be used for all seasons. What happens to everyone in the winter? Hibernate where? When I finished painting the wall the children really liked the tree. Waiting to add the leaves and birds and friends... I am sure this will lead us on to new adventures.

Ellen Kahue said:
How about "stick to the window" bird feeders? One year we made our own stick to the window bird house out of old milk jugs. I had the children gather all kinds of wild things from outside (moss, pine, feathers, etc...) Then, we cut and covered the container with Great Stuff from Lowes. We sprinkled all the goodies all over so it looked natural and when it dried it was very lightweight and easy to handle. We used window sticktights to secure it to the window and guess what? We had a Carolina Wren nest in it the first year! The best part was that we could spy on the bird making the nest at our window. I will see if I can find pictures of how we did this... It may take some digging.

Laura Lamarre Anderson said:
Thanks, Nancy. I've been thinking of putting up bird feeders. I get a little resistance from some at school who say the kids in the neighborhood will just knock them down. I guess that might happen, but it's worth a try. The descriptive language we inspire could convert some other teachers to adding the outdoors!
Ellen, I love the idea of a "stick to the window" birdhouse, but I don't understand how to do it. If you could post a picture or explicit directions I would like to try it. Sadly, I'm not very craft oriented and need all the help I can get on projects such as these. For instance, how do you cut the milk jug and what are window sticktights? Would appreciate any help you can give me. Thanks!

Ellen Kahue said:
How about "stick to the window" bird feeders? One year we made our own stick to the window bird house out of old milk jugs. I had the children gather all kinds of wild things from outside (moss, pine, feathers, etc...) Then, we cut and covered the container with Great Stuff from Lowes. We sprinkled all the goodies all over so it looked natural and when it dried it was very lightweight and easy to handle. We used window sticktights to secure it to the window and guess what? We had a Carolina Wren nest in it the first year! The best part was that we could spy on the bird making the nest at our window. I will see if I can find pictures of how we did this... It may take some digging.

Laura Lamarre Anderson said:
Thanks, Nancy. I've been thinking of putting up bird feeders. I get a little resistance from some at school who say the kids in the neighborhood will just knock them down. I guess that might happen, but it's worth a try. The descriptive language we inspire could convert some other teachers to adding the outdoors!

It seems that teachers are always seeking ideas for getting kids outside in the winter - to engage with nature in any way they can. Sometimes the way to do it is to get them outside for an activity that would normally be done indoors.

 

Here's one simple idea we recently came across: Working on spelling words can be tedious. Going outside, however, can provide a refreshing change. One Ohio teacher takes her class outside and has kids spell words on the sidewalk. Another teacher uses new snowfall to maximum advantage by having students spell words into the snow!

 

How are you getting kids outside this winter? What fun learning activities are you doing -- whether nature-oriented or unexpected? (Be sure to scroll down to see some great suggestions that people added last winter, like bird feeding, egg candling and lichen hunting.)

How do you catch a glimpse of the fastest creature on earth?  Go online!  Raptors in the City is a real-time, inquiry-based environmental education and technology program starring the peregrine falcon, a once endangered species that has recovered from near extinction and has adapted to city life.  Even when the snow flies, kids can watch the still rare birds live via FalconCams mounted on skyscrapers where they nest. 

"Courting" begins in winter, hatching in spring (usually during Earth Week), and the chicks take their first flight in early June.  The free "Falcon Flash" e-newsletter and website provide expert commentary and pictures of nesting activities.  To sign up, send an e-mail to raptors@hvc.rr.com with subscribe in the subject or visit www.raptorsinthecity.org  for more program information.  The goal of the program is to encourage children to look up as they walk in their neighborhoods and learn about things that are wild in the city.

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