Wednesday, May 11, 2016

South Dakota Birding Festival

My kindergartners were asked to 
make a poster for the birding festival.

The South Dakota Birding Festival is slated for May 20-22. There are many activities on the agenda including:  birding, bird banding, speakers and a supper. This festival is geared for people who are interested in birds and would like to learn more about them.  Birders are there to help out.  

I think it would be great if the kindergartners or any students from our school would come to the bird banding.  During this time the ornithologist sets up nets in hopes that a bird accidentally gets caught in the net.  He measures and weighs the bird as well as puts a numbered, metal band on the bird's leg.  Then if that bird is found again and that number is reported to the data base, scientist can learn where the bird was from.  

When my students have come to the bird banding before, they have dazzled the crowd with their bird knowledge.  The kids often get to hold a bird prior to its release.  Kids really love that!  It is a great photo opportunity for parents as well.  Bird banding takes place early in the morning at 7:00 AM - noon, which is early, but it is so worth it.  Our students and their parents are allowed to come to the bird banding sessions on Saturday morning for free, so please consider taking advantage of this opportunity.  Check this link, South Dakota Birding Festival for more information.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Meet the Chickadee Bird Club

The Chickadee Bird Club -  Grades K-3
Four years ago I began incorporating my passion for birds and birding into my curriculum after noticing that young students were also very interested in it.  When I teach them their color words, I use colorful birds.  When I teach addition and subtraction story problems I often use birds.  Teaching them how to write sentences using their love of birds, helps them to want to write more.  It works really well! 

Since that time I've met with each grade every other week to have a Chickadee Bird Club meeting.  During the meetings I teach them about bird identification, habitat, migration and geography.  We check in on nest cams, a feeder cam and cool bird videos.  I show them what birds are in the area at that time and which ones to watch for.  I also teach students how to bird and ways to get out and enjoy nature. We have a good time and it is my favorite part of the week!  

Here are the 47 young birders. These kids can easily identify hundreds of birds and many bird songs.  They come to me in school with interesting bird reports and accounts of the latest life birds they've seen.  It is so much fun to share this with them!  I tell the kids that I don't expect them to grow up to be birders, but learning about birds is also learning about science.  It encourages them to learn and think about their natural world.  These lessons should help them to become more aware of birds, their environment and most of all, I hope that I have instilled a love of nature in each of them!

Field Guides All Around!

The kids were thrilled when I passed out their field guides today!  Each kindergartner got one and any other student in grades 1-3 that didn't have a field guide also received one!  Now all 47 members of the Chickadee Bird Club has their own bird field guide.  I am so happy!

I also am awaiting a check from another donor.  I will take that money to buy bird field guides for the incoming kindergartners.  I plan to get different kind of field guide that has colored tabs to match the birds primary color.  We will keep those in the room all year and I'll teach the young students how to use them.  I will make sure that each classroom with K-4th has a couple of different kinds of field guides for the kids to use for reports and projects.  


Friday, May 6, 2016

Kindergarten Field Trip

The Kindergartners on Their Outdoor Field Trip
On Thursday, May 5th the kindergartners and I traveled to the lake for our field trip. First we went by the lake in town and we saw Double-crested Cormorants, a Canada Goose on her nest and Painted Turtles.  

We traveled about 8 miles to the larger lake and the kids played on the playground equipment first.  The weather was very nice!  With temperatures reaching the mid-80s later in the day.

After the kids had a chance to get acquainted with the area we went on the old bridge and looked at the water rushing over the spillway.  Levi's cap fell off of his head and down below, but a mom rushed down to get it.

We got to the trail head and started our hike to the top of the spillway and watched the water spill over.  Then we continued down the trail.  We saw a tree with several Double-crested Cormorants in it.  They thought the old, rock steps were cool.  We heard a Northern Cardinal singing and then we saw it!  The kids were excited!  We also saw the Great Egret a couple of times and that was awesome!  We also enjoyed watching the Cliff Swallows build mud nests under the bridge.

The kindergartners did a great job of recognizing bird songs.  Ryenn picked out the White-throated Sparrow song several times.  Some others noticed the American Crows, Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds calls.  They did very well on identifying birds, but the small birds were hard for them to find with their binoculars.  I announced that a Mallard was coming our way and Kason said, "You didn't need to tell me.  I've got my ducks down."  

During this hike we saw an odd thing.  There was a raccoon with its head stuck head in a tree.  Nearly its whole body was sticking out, but not its head.  After not moving for a long time, we realized it was dead.  We wondered what happened.  We saw cool insects along the way too.

After the hike we had a picnic because they said they were starving!  Fresh air and hiking does that to a person!  Then they had free play followed by kite flying.  The kite flew quite well much of the time.  Then they chased bubbles that I made with the giant bubble wand.

Next was the outdoor classroom portion of the trip.  I set up three centers of activities:  #1 Make a pine cone bird feeder with peanut butter and bird seed.  #2 Weave nature items into a Y sticks with a web of yarn.  #3 Build a house/stick fort for the fairies.  I think the kids enjoyed it.

To wrap things up we had a snack and water break before we hiked the other side of the lake.  On that side of the lake we saw American Coots, Spotted Sandpipers, a Forster's Tern and Northern Waterthrushes.  The total of species I saw with the kids was 40 different species of birds, but of course we didn't all see the same ones.

When we returned we all agreed that we were hot and thirsty.  They played for a bit more and then we cleaned up camp and headed back to school for dismissal.  I've done this trip for 23 years and this day is still one of my favorite days of the school year.  I think it was for some of them too!  We had a great time!

The kids loved playing on a different playground.

Before we hiked, we ran off some of their excitement.

There were smiles all around!

Some of the kids enjoyed watching the Cliff Swallow 
build their mud nests under the bridge.
Due to recent heavy rains the spillway was spilling over

The kids did a good job of focusing on birds and nature.

This boy found a June Bug.
The kids thought these rocks steps were cool!
I heard a Northern Cardinal, so I had the kids look for it.
They were so excited to see this beautiful, 
male Northern Cardinal!
We soon realized that this raccoon was dead.  
It appeared to have its head stuck in the tree.
The picnic is always a highlight!
We thought that our food tasted better!
Here is a view of the park.
The kids had some goodies packed in their lunch.
We did a bit more free play after the picnic.
They loved the jungle gym!
Flying the kite was a lot of fun!
Chasing bubbles turned out to be a great form of exercise!
Surprisingly they didn't crash into each other!
At one of the centers for my outdoor classroom, 
the kids made pinecone bird feeders.
Another center had them finding nature items
 to weave into their Y stick.
The kids seemed to have a great time on 
our outdoor field trip!

They were proud of their creation!
At another center they built small forts for fairies!  
They had trouble at first, but then they 
worked together to figure it out.
More Beautiful "Y Sticks"
Another Cool Fairy House
Here were are starting off on our afternoon birding trip.