Children are intrigued by the notion of flying. Add to that the beauty of birds’ feathers and songs, and learning about birds is sure to capture the interest and imagination of all kids!
The study of birds through play is a great way to incorporate the practical and informational elements of science, along with the pretend aspects related to our feathered friends.
Here are 22 birds activities for preschoolers and kindergarteners that will surely get you “flying” in the right direction.
Art and Crafts
Bird art for preschoolers makes use of many materials you probably already have in your cupboards.
Make sure plenty of pictures and books are readily available to children to use as visuals.
Using small lunch bags, children stuff them with newspaper for bird bodies or leave them flat to be used as bird puppets.
Glue on feathers, make paper beaks and attach them, and decorate them with googly eyes, markers and crayons.
Painting with Feathers
For this bird activity, choose large feathers to use as paintbrushes, having kids dip them into paint and brush them over large sheets of paper for a feathery look.
Feathers can also be used more for a printing effect by pressing them flat into paint and then onto the paper.
Music and Movement
The bird theme lends itself especially well to moving, singing and chanting. Check out the following old favourites and new challenges.
Singing or Chanting with Hand Motions
Sing these favourites with kids:
- Five Little Ducks
- Robin Redbreast
- Two Little Blackbirds
- Sing a Song of Sixpence
- Over in the Meadow – Raffi (listen to the tune on YouTube)
- Owl Singalong – Raffi (listen to the tune on YouTube)
Moving Like Birds
With a background of soft music with forest/jungle bird calls, challenge the kids to move like birds: waddle, strut, peck, hatch, hop, flutter, flap, fly, hover, perch and roost.
Sounding Like Birds
As a group, listen to some audio of various bird noises and songs.
Using a background of music with water sounds, tell children to add bird noises: chatter, chirp, cluck, cock-a-doodle-doo, cry, cuckoo, hoot, quack, shriek, trill, twitter, whistle.
Remember to discuss the various sounds to build vocabulary.
Filling the Bird Nests
In this playground game, divide children into two teams, with a differently coloured hula hoop for each team’s “nest.”
Bean bags or other small toys to serve as “eggs” are hidden outdoors before the children arrive outside.
At “start,” the kids run around the garden, finding the eggs to quickly add to their nests. When ‘time’ is called, the team with the most eggs wins.
If you are playing at home, set a timer and ask your child to find as many eggs for their nest as possible before the timer goes off.
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Read books, tell stories and watch videos about birds, both pretend and real. Follow up with discussions.
Books About Birds
These popular titles are available online:
Peck, Peck, Peck – Lucy Cousins
Are You My Mother? – P.D. Eastman
Birds – Kevin Henkes
My Backyard Bird Book – Cheryl Johnson
A Mother for Choco – Keiko Kasza
Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey
Parrots Over Puerto Rico – Susan Roth and Cindy Trumbore
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems
Owl Moon – Jane Yolen
Making Bird Books
After sharing books about different types of birds, ask the children to each choose a favourite bird and make a page for the class book/big book.
On large chart paper, kids glue pictures of their chosen birds cut/torn from nature magazines. They also draw their own pictures and scenes.
Let them dictate a few sentences of bird facts about their chosen bird and write them down on the page.
After the pages are compiled, share the entire book together.
Here are some ways to use birdseed for sensory play.
Working with Birdseed
Mixed birdseed (small and large) makes a great substance for your sensory table or bins.
Children can dip, pour, measure and sift, also driving their toy vehicles through the seedy terrain.
Making Birdseed Slime
After making up a batch of easy slime, have kids add a mixture of small birdseed to the concoction.
The texture is still stretchy and smooth but also pebbly and colourful.
Offer a variety of props, dress-up clothes and bird puppets/stuffed animals for playing pretend.
Pretending to be Veterinarians
Many kids have been inside the office of a vet, and picture books about the topic could also be made available.
Children set up a play veterinarian office, with various props and stuffed animals and birds.
Acting Out Stories
Using props and bird puppets, children act out books and tales that have been shared or make up their own stories.
Bird science activities give kids a chance to interact more closely with these mysterious animals.
Making Bird Feeders
Children make hanging bird feeders out of pinecones or cardboard toilet paper tubes covered with peanut butter and birdseed.
Hang them with twine or string where the kids can observe the birds coming in to sample the seeds.
Observing Bird Nests and Feathers
Set up a science table for your kids to look closely at assorted bird feathers and collected bird nests.
Building Bird Nests
Share a book about bird nests, such as Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward.
Take kids outdoors to gather materials: moss, grasses, twigs, feathers, bark, leaves, small stones, string and paper.
Sort the materials into categories. Using mud, form the materials into nests to dry.
Drawing and Writing in Science “Journals”
Task children with being on the lookout for birds in their gardens, drawing pictures of them in their notebooks.
Kids can dictate several sentences about what they observed for each entry.
Bird-related activities lend themselves smoothly to maths skills such as counting, operations, sorting, measurement and patterns.
Sorting “Birds’ Eggs”
Offer various sizes and colours of play “birds’ eggs” for sorting into buckets or raffia/shredded paper nests.
Counting Birds on a “Wire”
String up a low clothesline indoors for children to clip on “birds” made from paper, feathers and clippie-type clothespins.
After clipping on an assortment, children count how many bird visitors are on their wire.
Try these cooking activities with your bird theme.
Cooking Edible Birds’ Nests
Here are two variations of edible bird nests:
- Mix potatoes shredded for hash browns with olive oil, an egg and salt/pepper.
- Spoon into metal muffin tins and form into “nests.”
- Bake at 400F/200C for 20 minutes.
- Serve filled with boiled eggs.
- Mix crispy chow mein noodles and coconut in a bowl.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave and pour over the noodles, stirring to combine.
- Quickly mould the mixture into nests on a baking sheet as it cools.
- Fill with mini marshmallows or small candy eggs.
NOTE: various recipes for both types of nests can be found online.
Making Deviled Eggs
Pre-boil the eggs to be used. With plastic utensils, show children how to cut the eggs the long way and scoop out the yolks.
Either individually or as a group, the yolks can be mashed, seasoned and mixed with mayonnaise or plain yoghurt and spooned back into the whites. Enjoy!
Too often, children forget to pay attention to their beautiful surroundings while playing outside. Observation activities can remind them to be mindful of nature around them.
Going for a “Bird Walk”
Lead children on a walk around the garden, around the block or even farther, to see what kinds of birds they can observe.
Take along a bird identification book and binoculars for ease of identification and viewing.
“Flying” Like Birds
Encourage children to run safely outdoors, while flapping their arms like wings to “fly.”
Some of the bird noises and movements from the Music and Movement section could also be incorporated. This can be especially fun on a windy day.
The bird theme for preschoolers is often a favourite and can lead to other themed animal units after kids have learned all about birds.
The study of birds can also help children understand different environments in which animals live, such as jungles, forests, polar regions, deserts, farms and even in homes as pets.
Here are more fun preschool themes to explore.
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