Beautiful Blackbird, by Ashley Bryan    

All the birds want to be beautiful like black bird who generously shares his color with them.


  • Roll of crepe paper
  • A whisk, hand eggbeater, slotted spoon, different tools to make bubbles in water.
  • Several large stiff feathers to use as paint brushes


  • Arcs (curves and semicircles)
  • Festival (party or celebration)
  • Mirrored (reflected)
  • Beautiful (how lovely someone or something is)

Introducing the Story

Play a color game such as; If you are wearing _____clap your hands, if you are wearing ________green stomp your feet.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.

Or have snips of paper in several colors (one for each child). Give each child a snip of paper and the child must go and find an object in the room that color. Make sure whatever game you play that black is included.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; shows growth in matching, sorting, putting in a series, and regrouping objects according to one or two attributes such as color, shape, or size.

Reading the Story

Read this book ahead of time so that you have the rhythm of the story as you read. When you get to the page where Blackbird shares his color, tell the children that he is being a beautiful friend by sharing all his color.

Language development/Listening & Understanding; demonstrates increasing ability to attend to and understand conversations, stories, songs, and poems.

After Reading the Story

Ask the children what it is that all the birds wanted from black bird? (His color black).   Why do you think they wanted some black of their own? (They thought it was beautiful). Do you think it was fair that Black Bird shared some of his with all the other birds? (Yes, he was being a good friend). Ask the children if they know what beautiful means? Let them give their thoughts (Beautiful is really pretty like a shiny necklace. Beautiful is my stuffed doggie. My Mommy says my smile is beautiful.). Then tell the children that every person in the whole wide world has something that is beautiful about them. Sometimes it is on the outside like lovely curls and sometimes it is on the inside like when someone always shares and is kind. Let the children comment upon this idea. If they do not, you can tell one thing beautiful about all the children in the group. (Roger has a beautiful smile and Alison is beautiful because she is so gentle with her baby sister and other little children.). Make sure to include both inward and outward beauty for everyone throughout the day. (Sean, that is beautiful how you mixed those colors on your painting, you are an artist. Paula, that was so thoughtful and beautiful for you to share your book with Ryan).

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest and involvement in listening to and discussing a variety of fiction and non-fiction books and poetry.

Music and Movement

Take the words to the dance in the book and turn it into a barnyard type call and dance.

Beak to beak, peck, peck, peck
Spread your wings, stretch your neck.
Tip tap toe to the left, spin around
Toe tap tip to the right, stroke the ground.
Wings flip-flapping as you glide,
Forward and backward in a snow claws slide.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions. AND Creative Arts/Movement; shows growth in moving in time to different patterns of beat and rhythm in music.

Sing Two Little Blackbirds

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill,                                     
(Children hold up 1 finger on each hand)
One named Jack and one named Jill.                                         
(Wiggle left finger, wiggle right finger)
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill                                                         
( Put 1 finger behind back, then the other)
Come back Jack, come back Jill.                                                 
(Bring 1 finger forward, then the other)

Next add 2 fingers to each hand and count. Sing about 4 blackbird, then 6 blackbirds, 8, and then 10

Mathematics/Numbers & Operations; develops increased abilities to combine and name “how many” concrete objects.


Fill 5 plastic cups with a small amount of paint; red, blue, yellow, white, and brown. Put out white paper and brushes. Challenge the children to mix colors to make new colors. Can they make black? Pink? Green? Purple? What happens when you add more white to your color?

Science/Scientific Skills; begins to participate in simple investigations to test observations, discuss and draw conclusions, and form generalizations.


Challenge the children to build a nest and then pretend to be birds.

Approaches to Learning/ Reasoning & Problem-Solving; develops increasing ability to find more that one solution to a question, task, or problem.


Put out black paint and feathers for brushes at the easel today. You can cut out simple bird shapes from colored construction paper.

Creative Arts/Art; gains ability to use different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expressions and representation.

Sand and Water

In the story, blackbird stirred his brew in the medicine gourd. Put water into the table today with things to stir; a whisk, a hand mixer, a slotted spoon. Let the children add soap to stir around and make bubbles.

Social & Emotional Development/Self-Control; demonstrates increasing capacity to follow rules and routines and use materials purposefully, safely, and respectfully.

Library and Writing

Tell the children that in the story today, blackbird said color on the outside is not what’s on the inside. You don’t act like me. You don’t eat like me. You don’t move and groove your feet like me. And in our class, you don’t have the same name as me. Give the children paper and pencils/markers to practice writing their names. Put out name tags so the children can see their name as they copy the letters. For older children, encourage them to also copy the name of their friends.

Literacy/Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name. Literacy/Early Writing; progresses from using scribbles, shapes, or pictures to represent ideas, to using letter-like symbols, to copying or writing familiar words such as their name.

Dramatic Play

In the story, the birds gathered for a festival. Put out crepe paper and masking tape so the children can begin to decorate for a festival in the dramatic center.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; participates in a variety of dramatic play activities to become more extended and complex.

Math and Manipulatives

Make a ‘Which is our favorite color’ chart and then survey the children to see which is their favorite color. After all the children have been surveyed, you can use your chart to see which color was most favored in your classroom, which color was nobody’s favorite, count how many marks each color has. Write the number on the chart.

Mathematics/Patterns & Operations; begins to make comparisons between several objects based on a single attribute.  AND Mathematics/Numbers & Operations; begins to make use of one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.

Outdoor Play

Pretend to be birds and fly about the play yard. Can the children fly fast? Slow? Fly very low to the ground? On their tiptoes? Use the edge of the sandbox to perch as though on a branch, pretend to fly down and eat insects and gather together in a nest for the night.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.


Send the children off to the next activity by colors. If you are wearing black, line up. If you are wearing green, line up, etc..

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; understands an increasingly complex and varied vocabulary.


Dear Parents, today we read a story about how birds got black markings on their bodies. Take your child for a black walk about your house or property. How many black items can they find?

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.