When planning what to include in our studies, I always look for inspiration in what is happening around us and in what activities are actually available to us. So, when Sanne invited me and the kids to join a bird watching activity in Ateneo, I immediately said yes and then set to work looking for the perfect book to read to prepare for it.
Being The Learning Basket’s super knowledgeable shop girl, Sanne recommended “Albert” by Donna Jo Napoli. It’s from Volume 4 of Five in a Row; the unit study is downloadable from the FIAR site. It is supposed to be for ages 7 and up, but the story is just so lovely and we have already read Owl Moon, another book about birds, that I decided to go ahead with Albert.
Albert is a fearful man who always finds excuses not to go out. The weather is always too cold or too warm for him. One day, as he extends his arm out the window to ostensibly check the weather, a cardinal drops a twig on his hand and starts building a nest!
Eggs are then laid, and Albert finds himself just standing there holding the nest until the eggs hatch a few weeks later. The story is fantastical and the illustrations by Jim LaMarch are really just warm and beautiful; even three year old Little Sir was drawn to it every time I read it.
We started our lesson with a bang… of hammering! Sanne and I recently discovered the DIY construction kit Red Tool Box (we stocked up on it at the shop, of course!) and were eager to try it with our kids.
Little T and I finished it in two hours, with her doing most of the work; my task was just to hold the wooden boards as she screwed them together. I made her look at the instruction and really do the project on her own. She was so proud of her handiwork.
Little T was all fired up with the story that she started to make a nest with a styro bowl and some grass that she picked up. She was also excited to put some seeds on her bird feeder and waited for birds to come. Though we saw that the seeds were being eaten, we never actually saw birds on the bird feeder.
“Albert” is such a rich story that we were really able to talk about the topics and do some of the activities recommended by FIAR during the week. But our last day reading the book was the highlight of the week as that was when we went to Ateneo to join the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines. Little Sir was the youngest, but even he was lent a pair of binoculars by the club.
Little T, Little Sir, and Sanne’s Energizer Bunny enjoyed looking through their binoculars. The scope pictured above gave us a really close look at the birds, specifically the blue Collared Kingfisher. Just beautiful!
Joining a bird watching group opened our eyes to the beauty of nature. Honestly, there are a lot of birds in our backyard but I really thought that we only had the Eurasia Tree Sparrow or maya. After that day, the kids and I are more excited about birds. We would really stop, point, and watch whenever we see one hopping about, even when we are in outdoor restaurants. It is a common experience between my family and Sanne’s, as they are now also more aware of our flying friends.
Resources for You
To learn about birds with your child, here are some more resources for you that we also used. Whether you are a homeschooling or an afterschooling family, your children will definitely learn and benefit from looking closely at the birds around you.
- Book about birds
- Free bird watching sessions by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
- Magic School Bus Flies From The Nests – book and video (to be available soon at the shop!)
- YouTube videos of birds making nests
- Isang Mayang Uhaw – we used this to include my three-year old in his big sister’s lesson