Young students starting their first science investigations, can begin by just asking simple questions and making simple observations. Using birds for the subject of their first science investigation is useful because birds are available in the yard. Many species stay all winter and kids can watch for them from an inside window.
Provide students with some simple questions to answer, a schedule for doing their "research," and a way to record results (see making bird journals). Then discuss their results as a class. It can be helpful to do a bird identification unit for a few days before you start this activity.
Find 5-10 of the most common songbirds seen in your area in the winter (or spring, depending upon when you do the activity). Note that bird residents change from fall to winter to spring, so you will have to look for the birds that are present. (See, A Simple Guide to Winter Birds.)
Age: 3rd-6th grade
Objectives: Student will learn to observe, identify local birds, take notes, answer questions, compare and contrast information and observations.
Student will keep a notebook of bird observations every day for a week. Each morning after breakfast they will look out a window into their yard, where there is a tree, bird feeder, or patch of weeds. They will watch for 5 minutes. Then answer the following questions every morning.
1). How many birds do you see?
2). How many different kinds of birds do you see?
3). How many birds do you see in the trees?
4). How many birds do you see on the ground?
5). How many birds do you see flying by?
6). What are the birds doing?
7). What color are the birds?
8). Are all the birds the same size?
9). Do you know the names of any of the birds?
When you discuss what the student observed at the end of the week, ask them to answer some questions.
1). Did this activity make you more aware of birds?
2). Did this activity make you wonder about the lives of birds?
3). What kinds of things do you wonder about birds?
4). Can you identify some birds by name now?
5). Did you like watching for birds?
6). What did you learn about birds by watching them?