As we are studying birds in our current vertebrate study, we decided to try to find a real bird. This gives the children a concrete experience with the animal and is so much richer than looking at a picture. We had Leslie Science and Nature Center bring an owl to the classroom today. This owl was a female Eastern Screech Owl. She has a broken wing and is being cared for at the center.
Sara, our guide led us through many features of owls and the children had many questions. Here are some things we learned…
Owls have big eyes, if they had a head our size, the eyes would be as big as tennis balls.
They are brown because they want to blend into their environment, this is called camouflage.
They cannot move their eyes, instead they move their head. Luckily, she turned her head backwards at that moment!
The little tufts that look like ears are not actually ears. Instead the dark line that runs around the side of their face is where their ears are.
The wings of an owl make no sound. This is so the critters they are hunting cannot hear them. To demonstrate this idea, our guide had us close our eyes as she waved an owl wing then one single turkey feather. The owl wing made no noise. The turkey feather did! She then passed these around so the children could feel them. The owl wing was very light and soft. Luckily, we just gave a lesson on how to hold something fragile. The children were very careful.
Owls don’t usually build nests. They find a hole in a tree or somewhere safe with a lot of food available.
This type of owl lays up to five eggs at a time, they are very small and are off white with brownish spots.
Yesterday afternoon we read “Owls” by Gail Gibbons to the afternoon children. They had a few questions and many comments about owls!
This was a wonderful experience for all of us. We learned so much and the owl was very cute!
On our science table this week we put out a simple water pump in a bowl of water. The children were immediately drawn to this and began to experiment. They quickly learned how to move the lever up and down to create water flow.
We discussed how the water is pumped and comes out of the spout. They will be able to interact with this all week.
We are continuing our study of birds this week. Today we made more birds nests which will be discussed in a future post. Although we are discussing different characteristics of birds as a whole such as where they live and what they eat, we are also looking and listening to a different bird each day. We are creating a bird book that the children will have at the end of our study. We have a special book that has illustrations of birds and a button to push to hear how they sound. Each day the children look forward to what the bird of the day is and request to push the button to listen to the bird. They look at pictures of the birds and color their own page while listening to the sounds that bird makes.
We have also been “birding” by looking out of the window with the binoculars. This is a popular activity but requires us to initially demonstrate how to use the binoculars.
We have already studied two vertebrates: mammals and fish (please see previous posts). We are now on to our third vertebrate: birds! We have so many activities to reinforce the information of the characteristics of birds. Birds have feathers, they lay eggs, most build nests and can fly. We begin this by coloring a book about birds and discussing these features. Along with the bird book, we have small models of birds the children can look at and interact with while coloring their book.
We like to have various art and practical life activities that focus on what we are studying. Here we have bird feather gluing. The children are able to touch and feel the feathers while experiencing a practical activity like gluing.
We also have some sewing cards related to birds. This helps the child practice their sewing skills and adds a point of interest.
What do birds eat??? Some eat seeds and to help understand this concept, we made pinecone bird feeders! We gathered pinecones outside, placed on a tray, spread shortening, rolled in bird seed, attached a pipe cleaner and took home for the birds to enjoy!
Our afternoon children made muffins on Tuesday with sunflower seeds on top. We talked about what birds eat and decided to sprinkle some seeds on the top of our muffins! They also had banana and coconut inside. Yum!
We have many more bird activities coming! Stay tuned! We are working on a real bird experience!
This week we began the study of another vertebrate, fish. This began with reading a story about fish including the characteristics of a fish.
We also presented fish cards to match. They loved looking at the different types of fish to see if they had ever seen one like that. The puffer fish was of interest as there is a tank at the downtown library that contains one. Many of the children have seen that tank. (There is also a fish tank at the Hands On Museum- if you go to either place, be sure to check out the fish.)
For a very concrete experience, we brought in a whole fish. The children were able to see the gills, scales, lateral line, mouth, eyes etc.. This was very exciting for them, some wanted to touch the fish and some wanted only to observe.
Having this concrete experience was more meaningful when creating a parts of the fish booklet, they had seen the real thing, this was an extension.
Since we have a fish in our classroom, we decided to clean the tank when the children were present so they could understand how to care for a pet fish. We had many helpers and they were able to experience giving the fish new, clean water.
If you have a chance, check out the fish at the supermarket, at the library, Hands On Museum or any other place you may find them.
Some things are made of wood, some are made of metal. Wood comes from trees, metal comes from rocks in the Earth. Children can choose from a basket and place items into smaller baskets. This is a great classifying activity.
In Montessori education, we are always trying to provide the children with concrete experiences
As a continuation of the vertebrate studies, we have now begun the study of mammals. The children have looked at cards of mammals, we have pointed them out in our environment (humans, squirrels, deer) and have now had a visit from a friendly, specially trained therapy dog named Raven. Some children brought in photos of their mammal pets to show the rest of the class. To enhance the whole experience, the children could choose to match picture cards with the various parts of a dog.
A few made their own ‘parts of a dog’ booklet to take home.
At the end of our morning time, Joan and Raven stopped by for a visit. The children sat on the floor and took turns petting Raven and were able to have a very concrete experience with a mammal other than ourselves. We discussed the various characteristics of the mammal such as: has hair or fur, gives birth to live babies and feeds their babies with their own milk.
Joan answered many question about Raven while the children were shown how to pet her and let her smell their hands.
A huge thank you to Joan and Raven, what a special morning!
We have been investigating magnets in our school lately. The children were introduced to a large horseshoe magnet and various objects to pick up.
After this, we put out a small magnetic car with a smaller magnet. They really enjoyed making the car “go” with the force of the magnet.
After a few days of playing with the magnet and the car, we then put out Magnetic Match Rings. Here the children can just explore with the magnets or follow a card and match the magnets. Using the rules of magnetism, to make the rings float, you must use like or the same poles. Opposite poles attract. Each ring has a positive and negative pole, it was really fun experimenting with these magnets.
This week we have been talking and thinking about animals with backbones and those without. The children sorted cards into the two categories. They had fun feeling their own backbone to see if they were a vertebrate. Lucky us, we have had a few casino online mammals outside our windows to look at: squirrels, chipmunks, a few female deer and the other day our first buck walked by the window.
The extended day children then extended this activity by making models of vertebrates and invertebrates.
This week we begin studying Living/Non-Living. We study this by discussing what is alive (trees, people, deer – we saw 2 today!- plants, fish etc…) and what is not alive (houses, clothes, rubber bands…). Today we gave a small group lesson where after discussing the principles of what is alive or not alive, they placed necklaces or labels on people/plants/objects in the classroom.
Although this is difficult to see, the fish had a LIVING card placed near the tank.
The children also gave necklaces to people and plants who were living too. They gave themselves necklaces as they realized, “I am living!!”
Tomorrow we will also be presenting the children with living/non-living picture cards to classify. Ask you child if they know what is living or not living in your home.