On Bird Hill, by Jane Yolan

On Bird Hill is a story that follows a boy and his dog as they discover a bird nest. The story follows a similar path as the song, The Green Grass Grew All Around. This is a nice book to introduce a unit on Ornithology or spring.

Materials

  • Find or make a poster of birds in your area. Hang by a window where the children can look out and look for common birds.
  • Pipe cleaners in 3-5 inch pieces and bowls that correspond in color.
  • Tweezers, tongs, clothes pins, chopsticks, forks.
  • Newspaper, shredded
  • Jelly Beans
  • 20 Egg shapes
  • Bird flying to nest picture, 1 per child
  • Box of Cheerios and 12 inch lengths of yarn

Vocabulary

  • Habitat (Where a bird or other animal lives. It is their home where they find food, water, and shelter).
  • Camouflage (To blend into the environment so difficult to see).
  • Ornithologist (A person who studies birds).
  • Chick (A baby bird).
  • Territorial (The area around the birds home/nest that they protect against strangers and other animals).

Before Reading the Story

Hold up the cover of the book and ask the children if they can guess what today’s story is about. Begin a conversation about birds. Do the children know where they live? (Many birds live in trees but they also live in bushes and rocks. They live in the country and also in the city. Where there home is is called their habitat). Do they know the names of any birds? What makes a bird a bird? (All birds have feathers, 2 feet, and beaks. Most birds can fly). Ask the children what the brown oval like shape is on the cover of the book, an egg. Explain to the children that birds lay eggs. Show them a picture of several real eggs. Do all eggs look the same? Count the number of eggs in each of the pictures, which has the most, the least? Ask the children again what they think the story might be about. Introduce the story.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes. AND Mathematics/Number & Operations; develops increasing ability to count in sequence to 10 and beyond.

Reading the Story

At the end of the story, have the children crouch very small into an ‘egg’ shape and then slowly crack their shell by pecking. Slowly uncrouch, stretch wings/arms, shake out legs, look around, and then fly away around the room and back to their nest.

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

After Reading the Story

Can the children recall the order in which the story took place? Ask them what happened first, then open the page to reveal. What happened next? Turn the page. Do this as a picture walk with the children telling what is happening on each page.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

Discovery

Watch a video of baby birds hatching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAfm7ErYLXg

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

Set out a bird feeder and a poster showing common birds in your area. Make several pairs of binoculars by taping two toilet tubes together. Encourage the children to look from the feeder to the poster and try to identify the birds. If your feeder is popular, keep a running tally of the birds who visit it.

Mathematics/Geometry & Spatial Sense; begins to be able to determine whether or not two shapes are the same size and shape. AND Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; develops growing abilities to collect, describe, and record information through a variety of means, including discussion, drawings, maps, and charts.

Music and Movement

Teach the children the song, The Green Grass Grew All Around. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AsSBYIrZNo This song is a echo song where the children echo back to you line by line.

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

Put on the song, Just Flap Your Wings Together, and teach the children the movements. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaARSaHa5GA

Language/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions. AND Approaches to Learning/Initiative & Curiosity; chooses to participate in an increasing variety of tasks and activities.

Play the song, Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and let the children dance to the music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaGUr6wzyT8

Creative Arts/Movement; expresses through movement and dancing what ifs felt and heard in various musical tempos and styles.

Sing Two Little Blackbirds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08s1i5h2xFw. Start with holding up one finger from each hand and have them fly behind your backs. Sing again holding up 2 fingers on each hand, have the children count. Now sing about 4 little blackbirds and have them fly behind your backs. Continue till you have all 5 fingers on each hand held up and sing about 10 little blackbirds.

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

Teach the children the chorus of Blue Bird and let them take turns going through the windows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arwbBx1jmQY

Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; develops increasing abilities to give and take in interactions; to take turns in games or using materials; and to interact without being overly submissive or directive.

Blocks

As the children build in blocks today, stop by and ask them to pretend they are woodpeckers. Explain that woodpeckers tap on trees to find insects to eat. Show them by tapping onto a block several times. Ask them if they have ever heard that sound when they are outside? If they have, it was probably a woodpecker! Now play the woodpecker game. Woodpecker, woodpecker tap for me…tap your beak to the number 1-10. The children then tap out the correct number while counting out loud.

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

Art

Make bird puppets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=vf3vqxEyRyg. Older children should be able to do most of the folding by themselves with some adult supervision.

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

Add sturdy feathers to the easel today to use as paint brushes.

Set out bowls of Cheerios. Give each child a 12-inch length of yarn (one end should have a Cheerio tied to it and the other end a bit of masking tape around it to make it firm). Let the children string the Cheerios and then take them to the playground or outside your science window for the children to watch the birds come to eat off them).

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; grows in hand-eye coordination in building with blocks, putting together puzzles, reproducing shapes and patterns, stringing beads, and using scissors.

Library and Writing

Use the sequence cards of a bird hatchling and also from The Green Grass Grew All Around. Can the children put them in correct sequential order?

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

Use the bird flying to nest picture (one per child) and have the children follow the lines with a marker from bird to nest. Are they able to stay within the lines?

Literacy/Early Writing; experiments with a growing variety of writing tools and materials such as pencils, crayons, and computers.

Sand and Water

Fill the table with shredded newspaper about one inch deep. Cut pipe cleaners into 3-5 inch lengths. Add bowls to correspond with the colors of pipe cleaners (color the bottoms of the bowl). Explain to the children that birds use their beaks to gather food. Have the children pretend to be birds by using the tongs, tweezers, chopsticks, and fork to pick-up the worms from the table and put them in the matching colored bowls. (Hang the picture of the bird beaks over the table and share with the children the explanations of the different bills. Picture taken from A Glorious Illustrated Love Letter to Curiosity and the Magic of Our World, by J. Rothman)

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; develops strength, dexterity, and control needed to use tools such as scissors, paper punch, stapler, and hammer.

Fill the table with birdseed today. Add small bird feeders and various sizes of containers for the children to fill and scoop. How many scoops from this container does it take to fill this bird feeder? Have the child count as they scoop. (when you are finished using the seed in the table, use it to feed the birds)

Dramatic Play

Add colorful scarves to the center and make simple beaks stapled to headband made from sentence strips (many children do not like wearing a mask that covers their face). Turn the table over or add boxes and blankets to make nests.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.

Math and Manipulatives

Give each child 10 jelly beans. Have them sort them by color and then count each color. Which color has the most? The least, any two colors have equal amounts? Which color is the child’s favorite? (Ask a child to eat one of the 3 red jelly beans, how many do you have left?).

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. AND Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to use language to compare numbers of objects with terms such as more, less, greater than, fewer, and equal to.

Ahead of time print 2 copies of the egg patterns page. Color the eggs to make 9 sets of 2. These can then be used for matching or playing memory.

Mathematics/Patterns & Measurement/ shows increasing abilities to match, sort, put in a series, and regroup objects according to one or two attributes such as shape or size.

Outdoor Play

My class used to like to use rakes, shovels, and brooms to gather pine needles to make a nest. The pine cones can then become the eggs.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.

Pretend to be birds and flap around the playground. Fly to your nest and feed your babies. Then fly back out around the playground to look for more bugs or seeds. Take turns being the adult birds flying around and coming back to feed the baby birds who sit in the nest and cheep loudly. The parent bird can pretend to feed the baby bird and then they can switch roles.

Creative Arts/Dramatic Play; shows growing creativity and imagination in using materials and in assuming different roles in dramatic play situations.

Transitions

Hang the pictures of the real eggs on the wall where the children can reach them. Give each child a piece of masking tape with their name written on it. Have them stick their name beside the nest that they think is the most beautiful. Which nest has the most votes?

Mathematics/Number & Operations; demonstrates increasing interest and awareness of numbers and counting as a way for solving problems and determining quantity.

Resources

This web site includes pictures, characteristics, and songs of common birds. https://www.audubon.org/news/get-know-these-15-common-birds

color eggs for pattern play
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.