It’s the end of July and our Oregon summer has finally broken into sunshine. Our urban backyard is riotous with swallowtails, sparrows, and creeping wild blackberries. While we’ve been taking a slower pace with our homeschool during these rare, warm days, we are now wrapping up our study of Birds with Gentle + Classical Preschool.
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My littles ages 3, 2, and 7 months are using some awesome curriculum for enriching our home environment and family time. Our primary resource is Gentle + Classical Preschool Level 1 by Erin at Life, Abundantly.
We are also weaving in elements of A Year of Tales by Wilkinson Nest. Both curriculua are Charlotte Mason inspired materials that encourage literature and nature study with faith-based character development. G+C is our core curriculum, and we are utilizing A Year of Tales for our Morning Time. I’m working on full blog post reviews of both programs, so check back for updates!
Literature for a Bird Unit Study
Bird Themed Books
- I could not find this book on Amazon, and I think it may be out of print. However, it is a rare jewel of a book — if you can find it, get it!
Core Living Books
Resources for a Bird Unit Study
Here is a variety of resources that are perfect for any bird study! We weren’t able to use them all this time, but I hope to incorporate them gradually as our studies allow.
Green Urban Mama
- Bird Observation Pack
- Gentle + Classical Preschool Level 1
- Bilingual Montessori 3 Part Cards
- Gentle + Classical Nature
- Ugly Duckling Early Years Learning Pack
- North American Raptors
- Garden Birds Flashcards
- Wetland Birds
- Australian Finches
- Australian Birds
Chickie and Roo
Twig and Moth
The Silvan Reverie
Firefly Nature School
Gentle + Classical Preschool
We use G+C as our core curriculum, and I choose to add in other materials for extra variety (or maybe because I’m just a curriculum addict…?). G+C is designed to function fully on its own but has the flexibility to work alongside pretty much whatever other resources you might want to include.
In our home, we use G+C to set out pace, structure, and direction for each unit study. I have a memory board with printable memory statements that I (get way too excited to) update each unit. Erin’s printables are lovely and make my life so much easier by creating instant structure. I love anything that helps make my life easier these days!
G+C has eight subject areas: Math + Basic Skills, Science, Social Studies, Scripture, Character + Catechism, Health + Safety, Motor Skills, and Language Arts. This can be a lot to focus on between my scattered brain and busy littles, so we primarily emphasize the Science portion plus Scripture and Catechism. Realistically, I’m discovering that I can successfully incorporate 1-2 of the other subjects each unit. Maybe I’ll get better with practice!
G+C Units 3 & 4 emphasize Birds! We have two parakeets, who have names but are affectionately known as Blue Bird and Yellow Bird by my kiddos. It was great using G+C as an opportunity to learn more about our birds!
In G+C, Units 3 and 4 feature the memory statements, “Birds Lay Eggs” and “Birds Fly in the Sky.” In my head, I envisioned spending one week on each of these themes, and included coordinating activities each week. The reality (as so often happens with small children) was far less organized… However, we did do a lot of bird related things, mostly as the moments arose in our day rather than strategically planned out.
Birds to Eggs Matching
The kids absolutely fell in love with this printable set of photo cards to match the adult bird to a nest of its eggs. We referred to it many times, and the kids especially enjoyed sharing it with their Grandma.
My favorite aspect of this set is that it is very well designed for young, preliterate learners. The nest photo cards also have a small image of the adult bird, so no reading is needed for children to easily match birds to eggs and check their own work. Montessori success!
(So sorry this photo does not do these cards justice — these were the only cards I could find when I needed to snap a pic. There are many more which must have run off with all our singleton socks…)
Backyard Bird Watching
Homeschooling has its perks — and hanging out in the backyard listening to bird calls and identifying our flying friends is surely one of them. Also, trying not to bust a gut laughing as my daughter ran after a sparrow screaming, “Birdie! We have snacks for you!” Serious life highlight.
In Gentle + Classical Nature, Erin includes a routine of taking a walk and viewing the same area over and over. I am not brave (crazy??) enough to take my three-3-and-under out on a walk since our street is so busy, so we enjoy the blessing of our huge and glorious backyard. For the kids, it must feel like Wonerland.
During this unit, we made friends with a young sparrow who now regularly hops along the top of our fence asking for little tidbits when we are outside. He developed this attachment to us one morning after the kids had left pumpkin pancake crumbs all over their picnic blanket… (We do not intentionally leave “people food” out for our wildlife — please be aware of what foods can harm animals or wary of what animals it might attract should you desire to feed the birds, too.)
It was truly amazing to see the kids develop an awareness and attention to detail in their surrounds each day as we did the simplest exploration. Just being active participants in the little happenings outside our door was a great opportunity for conversations about bird habits, songs, colors, flight, nests, eggs, food, and behavior. Kids are outstandingly resourceful question-posers — give them a rich experience and they cannot help but ask you all about it!
Eggs Hatching Reenactment
Let’s just say this… every laundry basket, box, or blanket in our house has probably been converted to a nest during the past few weeks. The kids went nuts making nests and acting out various roles of Mama Bird, Egg, Hatching Egg, and Baby Birdie.
They have sat on each other, hidden under and flung off blankets (to “crack their shells open”), and done pretty remarkably accurate pantomime of Mama Bird feeding wide-mouthed, screaching Baby Birdie. Things have “hatched” around our house that I didn’t even know were in the hatchable genre… butterflies, for instance.
This photo is of the kids in their basket nest absolutely overjoyed while watching a hummingbird documentary.
What’s in an Egg
I wrote a detailed post on my Instagram account about this little incident… but the gist of this mini study was that while making cupcakes from scratch, my sweet 2 year old boy began to cry because he thought he had cracked open a baby bird’s egg. Can you say teachable moment???
Also, we had a good hug over his concerns, and he now knows the eggs we buy at the store don’t have baby birds inside. Whew.
Bird Nest Playdough Invitation
This playdough invitation was inspired by A Year of Tales. I made a huge batch of playdough, then divided small portions into three sections, which I dyed pale green, mud brown, and natural color (no dye). I added a little lavender essential oil to this batch of dough — and it was heavenly to work with!
Then we trekked outside to “make nests.” The kids scampered around collecting nesting materials: twigs, grass, flowers, leaves, moss, lichen, feathers, etc. I laid out the raw materials on a tray, afterwhich they went to town building their own mini nests. We used small wooden eggs to enhance our nests when we were done.
I highly recommend this activity! Besides sensory play, I felt that I gained a lot of appreciation for birds through this activity. It’s not easy to build a nest from whatever you can gather in the backyard, and even with the help of playdough it can be a nighmare getting the nest together.
Social Studies / Spanish
For a break from birds, we also focused on the G+C Social Studies component about the persons of our family. We did this almost entirely in Spanish!
Was my Spanish perfect — LOL, no. But did the kids gain exposure to the language being used in a practical way when they were already intrinsically motivated to listen and learn? Check and check!
We used some great free printables by Spanish Mama, which I highly recommend if incorporating Spanish interests you!
We also did a fair amount of reading in Spanish that was bird-related. One of my new favorite books is Abecedario de los Animales, a book is overflowing with rich language and illustrations. Each letter of the alphabet is given two poems about animals. We enjoyed the P for Pajaro poems very much!
I have also fallen in love with this Montessori 3 Part Cards in Spanish by Eve Herrmann. They are so beautiful and perfect for nature exposure with a second language application!
As a casual field trip to experience some real, live birds, we went to the zoo for a day. While our entire trip was far more interesting than in times past because the kids are getting older, it also provided me with an informal way to test how well they had taken in all our studies. The kids were in awe of all the animals, but their eyes lit up at a nesting area. A display of how a nest is built fascinated them.
Once again, we had more learning resources than we had time or focus to experience, but I’m sure we will revisit Birds again. I have to keep in mind that my primary goal with our homeschool is to build a founding on which to scaffold future knowledge. I’m learning to tell my perfectionist self to let things slide a little in the name of organic experiences. It’s a good thing.
I learned many new things with our Bird Unit Study, and I enjoyed following the guided structure of G+C to make it happen. My kids are now well aware that birds hatch from eggs (except those ridiculously confusing store bought ones).
Goals for the Next Unit
Is there anything I would do differently next time?
So glad you asked! I have discovered that our Memory Board is not enough for me to expose the kids to their statements for memorization each week. Next time, I’m going to try adding flashcards of their statements to very briefly review during our Morning Time. I’ll let you know how that goes!
Follow along on Instagram for our study of Unit 5: Butterflies!