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Friday, February 20, 2015

Fill the bill!

Our bird watching hike started off on the right foot with the spotting of this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! It is such a neat bird to see in this area with a unique call and drumming pattern. Sapsuckers drill holes in bark to create sap wells. The sap wells attract insects which they dine on. Smart birds!
While having snack and enjoying the scenery from the wood pile, we also spotted a Red-tailed Hawk in a nearby tree. It appeared just as curious about us as we were about it. After jumping off the branch, we watched it as it soared high above us.
Sledding was on the agenda as well!
After we were fully exhausted from trekking through the snow, we returned to the classroom to learn about bird beaks. After reading a story, examining pictures, and studying the taxidermy we concluded that birds have lots of different beaks in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We learned that bird's beaks are perfectly adapted to their diet. Hummingbirds who drink nectar from flowers have long thin hollow beaks. Birds of prey like Great Horned Owls and Red-tailed Hawks, have small sharp beaks to tear apart meat. Cardinals have short strong beaks to break open hard seeds and nuts.

To help us to understand the concept further, we sketched various beaks in our journals and used play-doh to sculpt different beaks. Jonathon is pretending to be a toucan, plucking fruit from the trees.
We did a wonderful activity called "Fill the Bill". Using a variety of tools to simulate different beaks, they had to use their problem solving skills to determine the most efficient tool for eating each food source. They also had to decide which bird had a beak that functioned like the tool they chose. 
The tools included tweezers, pliers, straws, tongs, slotted spoons, and a strainer.  The bird beaks simulated were a duck, a hummingbird, a woodpecker, a Robin, and a pelican.
Next week, we examine bird feet and learn about their special adaptations!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Birds of a feather flock together!

Today we start our bird unit! I am a big fan of bird watching so I am always excited about getting kids involved and there is no better way to spark their curiosity about birds then to go out and see them for themselves. I was very proud to see that the class was full of natural birders. We spotted several Cardinals, Downy Woodpeckers, Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, American Robins, Turkey Vultures and even a couple Red-tailed Hawks.
While enjoying our snack on the wood pile, we used the "Identiflier" bird song machine to learn a few bird songs including the Chickadees "Chickadee-dee-dee-dee-dee" and the Carolina Wren's "tea kettle-tea kettle-tea kettle"

After much slipping and sliding while trying to hike down the hill, the class decided that the easiest method of travel down the hill sliding on our bellies like penguins! 
Back in the classroom, we spent some time making observations about the bird taxidermy- including a Ring-necked Pheasant, a Great Horned Owl, and a Common Merganser. Using magnifying glasses, we examined different types of feathers. We looked at long thin flight feathers and short fluffy down feathers and sketched them in our journals.
We will continue our bird unit next week! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

A Gaze of Raccoons

Throughout our mammal unit we have spent time learning about different local mammals, including the Bat, Virginia Opossum, and the Raccoon. Through stories, games, artifacts and projects we got an up close look at the lives of each of these animals. This week we made raccoon masks to magically transform our class of humans into a gaze of raccoons! We took our masks on the hike so we could explore nature through the eyes of a raccoon.
We climbed tree piles, searched for food, and played games like raccoons.
We took a break for a game of snow soccer leaving the raccoons to be the referees. 
We were silly and curious like raccoons. Below they are pretending to be shot of a tree cannon! 
Back in the classroom we continued working on our Opossum pouch project. We learned that Opossums are marsupials. Marsupials are pouched mammals that give birth to very small helpless babies that continue to grow in their mother's pouch. Other marsupials include the Kangaroo, Wallaby, and Koala. After learning about the Opossum, we made our very own marsupial pouch. Using felt and yarn, they carefully stitched their pouches together and then added their very own opossum to take care of. The class did such a fantastic job and worked very hard on their pouches. 

Aren't they just adorable! 
Next week we will begin our unit on Birds!