The children at The Coach House Day Nursery Forest School took part in the RSPB's Big Schools' Birdwatch. Leading up to the survey the Forest School leaders talked to the children about counting the birds. They made bird feeders to encourage as many types of birds as they could in the weeks leading up to the bird count. The group of children went out into the Forest.
First they listened to see if they could hear the bird calls and they followed the sounds. The children were given a sheet with pictures of the birds and they then had to count and mark down each time they saw one of the birds shown on the sheet. The children crept up behind the trees and bushes in an attempt not to scare the birds away, trying to be as quiet as they could.
The Coach House Forest School will send their results off to the RSPB to be included in their count.
2 Wood pigeons
5 Blue tits
We’d like to say a big thank you to RSPB Northern Ireland for coming to St Comgall's Primary School in Bangor and doing the Schools' Birdwatch with the P3 children. They enjoyed learning about the different birds, what they look like and the songs they sing.
Since the visit, the children have helped keep the feeding stations full of seeds etc. and we plan to make some of the bird pastry into wiggly worms to help make St Comgall's a long term home for the birds.
We also got great advice on how to use the survey to support our action plan for the biodiversity topic of Eco Schools. Based on the results of the survey, we are providing winter feeding in suspended feeders (nuts, seeds and pastry in pinecones) for our magpies, blue tits, finches, starlings and house sparrows.
Our school already welcomes starlings, which are nesting under our roof. We plan to build a terrace of nestboxes for our house sparrows as we understand they are finding life difficult and perhaps nest boxes for our robin, blue tits and great tits too.
Our Eco Committee is having fun at the moment creating a bug hotel to provide minibeast food for all species to feed their young in the spring. The teachers have been having fun suggesting suitable names like "Bitz Hotel", "Grand Bug and Pest Hotel”, “The Radisson Bluebottle” and of course book a stay on “Exmillipedeia”!
As I’m sure you’re aware, there are three different ID resources available for children to take part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch. There are ID cards aimed at ages five and under, a poster aimed at 6 – 11 year olds and a poster aimed at ages 11 and older. All you have to do is register at our website to take part: http://www.rspb.org.uk/schoolswatch/
This post suggests a few ideas that you could use with your class or group. I’ve been thinking of ages 6 – 11 whilst writing it, but I’m sure some of the activities could be differentiated or adjusted for older or younger children.
Design & Technology
There are various bird food and bird feeder ideas on our website, ranging from the very simple (for quick sessions or younger children) to the much more involved and complicated. Here are a set of ideas ranging from simple to more complicated.
Other craft ideas for bird food and bird feeders from around the web:
Big Schools’ Birdwatch provides an excellent starting point for numeracy activities. The event itself involves collecting data (number of birds seen) and this could be recorded on our tally sheet. From that, your class could make a table and a graph (pictogram, block graph, bar chart etc., depending on the age and ability of your children). If more than one class in your school is taking part, then get each class to make a graph and compare them. You could then make a graph of birds seen by the entire school!
In fact, if your school takes part in the Big Schools’ Birdwatch and submits your results, you are given access on our website to a suite of graphing programs. You will be able to compare your class’s data with the average for all the schools in the UK, as well as separating the data out into England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. If your class took part last year, then you will be able to compare this year’s data with the data you submitted last year. All of these are suitable for use on interactive whiteboards.
If your class is currently, or about to start, working on non-chronological reports, then consider writing reports about common garden birds. There are plenty of common birds that your children could see every day – you could split your class into groups and give each group a bird to research and write about. There is plenty of information about every single British bird on the RSPB website; for example, here are the pages for robin,starling and blackbird.
Or, if your class is currently looking at poetry, then perhaps you could think of writing acrostics for different birds seen during the Birdwatch? Acrostics provide structure for younger writers, and can be a quick registration-type activity for older children. Alternatively, you could use birds as inspiration for a larger and more powerful piece of poetic writing, more in the style of Ted Hughes’ ‘Pike’.
Big Schools’ Birdwatch provides a wealth of opportunities for links to science. You could, for example, try the following investigations::
Big Schools’ Birdwatch can also link into other areas of the science curriculum, where it could help meet objectives for ‘Living things and their habitats’ and ‘Animals, including humans’. There’s no point in me listing every single individual connection, but honestly, go have a look!
If you don’t yet have hold of a Big Schools’ Birdwatch Id resource, it can be requested, for free, via the 'register now' button on the Big Schools' Birdwatch website. The resource aims to help children identify the birds they’ve seen, and everything else you might need is available via download from our website – counting sheets, bird food recipes, assembly pack etc.,
If you an your class undertake any of the activities mentioned above, or come up with your own activities connected to Big Schools’ Birdwatch, please let me know. I’d love to publish a guest post on the blog!
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