Just when you thought it was safe…

Just when you thought it was safe to return to the waffling blog! – Mr Waffle brings you…..Fun with Nature…Part 2!! (pauses for dramatic music!)

This is the second instalment of my fun with nature waffle. Last week I set the scene and introduced you to three of the activities which the class completed. If you are interested in Bird Bingo and Nest Building, then go check out last week’s waffle. In this waffle I will tell you about the bird holidays and the expedition into the wild!



What bird is that children?

What bird is that children?

Some of the ideas that I waffle about here have their origins in the original project, although I have taken some artistic license to develop these further, using ideas that I have added since the project was completed.

  • Bird Holidays – At the start of the Fun with Nature topic, I had completed a KWL sheet with the children and one of the questions was why do birds fly away in the winter. Although many children appeared to know the answer to this question I wanted to demonstrate to them what was actually involved. In order to make this more real to the children we started by considering why they went on holiday and the preparations they made, including making provision for food and accommodation. After this had been considered, we looked at information about where birds migrated to. This was collected by myself so that it related to birds that we might have seen (although we didn’t) and also that a range of locations were covered. These were found on a map and the distance compared to the children’s own holiday locations. The idea about walking to the locations (since the birds fly under their own energy) was considered and then the reasons why migration took place. This gave ample opportunity for geographical skills to be developed, including the use of atlases and globes and scales and compass directions.

  • “…although the elusive kestrel did not make an appearance.”

  • Expedition into the Wilds! – No topic would be complete without a trip away from the classroom. Luckily, there was a university within walking distance which had some artificial lakes where a range of water birds lived. This was a perfect situation for the children to get used to using binoculars and practising their identification. Also, on the walk to the university, there would be the opportunity to ‘spot’ common town and garden and birds as well as passing an area of open farmland which presented the opportunity to see birds such as crows and maybe, if we were lucky, the odd kestrel. The trip was planned for a morning, and the children came prepared with a range binoculars from ones which were too big for them to carry, to toy ones from the local newsagent. With notebooks at the ready, we set off walking and bird spotting. Before long, due to the bird bingo and identification lessons, children were calling out – Magpie!, blackbird! wood pigeon! as they saw various birds. Stopping at the fields we scanned the grassland with our binoculars seeing crows and more wood pigeons – although the elusive kestrel did not make an appearance. At the lake side we talked about the identification of a range of ducks, from tufted to mallards and made notes about the differences between Canadian and Barnacle geese – a quick break for refreshments (morning playtime snacks) presented the opportunity to tell the story about the Barnacle geese and how they got their name. Although there was the opportunity to create a survey, we didn’t do this mainly since I wanted the children to focus on identification of the birds and the discussion which accompanied this.

  • Using technology -As I have mentioned in previous waffles, times have changed with respect to technology and, although there was not a lot of technology used in the original project, the opportunities are there. Creating a database of the different birds would be possible on programs such as Junior Viewpoint and using Google maps would have been interesting to see the terrain that the birds actually fly across. Recording of all the activities with mobile technology using videos or sound files would allow the activities to be shared on the virtual learning environment and commented on in follow up lessons. Although it is difficult to take photographs of birds – they tend not to keep still for a long period of time – the lakeside birds would have been very considerate and naturally stood still on the bank – especially if bread was used as an effective reward system. These could have been used with applications such as Notability to label the identification features of the birds.

  • As mentioned in the previous waffle on this subject, the children throughout the school worked on similar topics to do with nature. The ideas which I have presented within these waffles could easily be adapted to cover other subjects/areas for example flowers and trees. With the latter it is important to remember that trees really need to be in leaf for the children to have a starting point to identify the tree. Although other methods are available the leaves are the best starting point for the children. By completing the topic I aimed to provide two key points of learning for the children. The first was that they could identify more birds than they could at the beginning and secondly, and maybe most importantly, was that they enjoyed and recognised that it was possible to have….Fun with Nature. (cheesy ending I know).

    I look forward to hearing your comments and ideas, please add them in the comments below or start a topic in the Waffling Forums. You can also send me them via twitter(@iwilsonysj), Facebook, google+ or email.

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    Have fun, engage and I’ll catch you later