Here’s a simple back yard birds unit study with everything you need to study backyard birds. Feel free to join us for this unit study!
I’m so excited for this upcoming school year! I’ve just finished building out our bird unit study and it’s looking like it’s going to be a super fun first term!
If you’d like to learn more about how I create my own homeschool unit studies, check out this post.
For the 2021-2022 homeschool year, we will be covering three different science unit studies for first grade. In term 1, we will study backyard birds. In term 2, we will study the night sky. And in term 3, we will study ocean life. What a lineup!
Now before I get into the details of this unit study, I just want to mention that this unit study has a Charlotte Mason flair with short lessons and the ‘nature study’ aspect. However, as a Classical Conversations family, I have included some Foundations level work into this unit study as I am blending these two homeschooling methods this coming school year. (To hear more about how I’m combining homeschooling methods, be sure and subscribe to my newsletter to get notified of when that post goes live.)
So without further ado, here is the breakdown of what we will be doing for our simple bird unit study.
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What’s a unit study without a good booklist? Ambleside Online was the impetus to our nature study topics. From their Year 1 reading suggestions on Natural History, we will of course, be reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess. As part of our morning basket, Tuesdays and Thursdays will include reading from this book.
I also gathered a few field guides and general books about birds to help us in identifying the various birds we will encounter in our backyard…
The activities for this unit are very simple. Fridays are for nature study. We have a set time in our daily schedule where we will go out and observe the local birds in their natural habitat. We live next to a little creek and it’s a nice wooded area, perfect for watching our little bird friends.
During the term we will also keep a nature journal to draw and record what we see. The kids will take their journals out with them on our nature walks but we will also have a window bird feeder that will come in handy for drawing a more detailed image of the birds who come to visit.
In addition to our weekly nature study walk, I have a few hands-on activities I plan to incorporate for a little extra fun. First is a little tracker where we will log how many birds we see on each of our nature excursions. *Bonus math activity!*
I also purchased some little bird figurines and plan to use these with a play dough nest building activity. There are a few videos I plan to show, a live bird cam and a short YouTube video on birds for kids. To wrap up the study, we will be making a paper bird mobile with a printable I found online.
I considered buying journals specific for nature study but being the minimalist/cheapo that I am, I decided on good ole fashioned loose leaf paper and clipboards. I plan to hole punch these and store them in my kid’s school binders in the ‘science’ tab for a makeshift nature notebook. Read about how I organize my kid’s homeschool curriculum here.
What bird study would be complete without a good pair of binoculars? The ones I chose are kid-friendly ie. durable and shock proof 😉 and small enough for little hands and faces. It also has a decent amount of magnification (8x) and according to my research, the lens is very good quality.
Here are the links to the window bird feeder and Safari Ltd Backyard Birds Toob for our hands on play dough activity:
The Lesson Plan
As I said, every Tuesday and Friday we will read a little of our Burgess Bird Book and then on Fridays, in place of our circle time, we will go out on a nature walk. For the first week, I’ll do a little introduction during this time so we probably won’t have a nature study walk the first week. Thereafter, it’ll be a weekly excursion.
If you would like to do this study along with us, here is the weekly lesson plan break down:
Week 1: Introduction
Talk about birds! What do you know about birds? Are they furry, scaly or feathery? What do they eat? Where do they live? How can they fly? How do they reproduce? We are going to be discovering the answers to all these questions in the coming weeks! Watch YouTube Video about birds. Get excited!
Set up window bird feeder activity. Be sure to build awareness of birds outside and throughout the week as you run errands, etc. CC Cycle 1 science week 6 memory lesson/review: “what are the major groups of vertebrates?”
Week 2: Identification
Research parts of a bird and discover how they eat with their beaks then go out and observe birds! Take binoculars and a field guide to identify the birds you see. Track how many birds you see with a tracker. Draw one of the birds you see in a nature journal and label it’s parts.
Week 3: Bird songs
Watch live bird cams. Draw a favorite bird in your nature journal. Unveil the bird songs books and have fun listening to each bird song. Try mimicking the bird songs! Then, of course, go outside and listen to the bird friends sing!
Week 4: Nests
On this week’s nature walk, gather materials for your own nests. Maybe even leave out some yarn for the bird friends you have already encountered to find and build their nests with. Have fun building play dough nests with the materials you collected and the bird figurines.
Week 5: Eggs
Draw a nest with eggs in your nature journal. Experiment with some store bought chicken eggs (or farm fresh if you have them and can spare a few!) Have fun cracking them open and observe the shell. Bake something with the eggs! Cake?!
CC cycle 1 week 7 science memory lesson/review: “What are some ways animals reproduce?”
Week 6: Put it all together
Have each child do a mini presentation on some things they learned from their studies of birds. It can be an oral presentation or a drawing. Maybe they record a little video on your phone. Let them get creative! They can even act out a play! Or you can use this week’s bird mobile activity as a prop to help them demonstrate what they have learned.
And that’s it folks! There is so much more you can do with this unit study if you wish. As I have mentioned before, I’m all about the simplicity. I intentionally don’t go over board with the activities and lesson plans because honestly, at this stage in the game, science is pretty low on the priority list. With the main subjects of reading writing and math at the first grade level we already have a pretty full plate. This unit study keeps things focused and in bite sized pieces everyone can handle more easily.
So feel free to add to or subtract from the above plan to fit your family’s needs. For example, if you aren’t a part of Classical Conversations, leave that out! If you do follow along with this plan in any way, I’d love to hear about it! Comment your experience below or tag me on Instagram!