When I was teaching kindergarten in the Ferguson-Florissant School District in the state of Missouri, one of my favorite activities was taking my class to Little Creek Nature Area, a nature preserve owned and operated by the school district. Kindergarten students had the opportunity to visit Little Creek multiple times a year and my favorite visit was the winter one where we learned about winter birds. The Little Creek teachers taught us that some birds stay in Missouri throughout the year. We were shown beautiful photographs of these birds so we could identify them when we went bird watching. Each child made a pair of binoculars, two bird feeders (one to put in a tree at Little Creek and another to take home). The children armed with their binoculars and new bird watching knowledge were in awe when they went bird watching by peering out the huge observation window. With quiet anticipation we watched red feathered Cardinals, brown Wrens and little Black Capped Chickadees fly from tree to tree and feast on the seed filled pine cone feeders we had prepared. The visit ended with a story in front of the fireplace. We sipped hot cocoa topped with marshmallows and munched on homemade Cardinal Cookies while the teacher read winter stories.
I recently attempted to replicate some of the activities my students enjoyed so my three-year old daughter could experience some of the Little Creek winter magic. The following is a description of the activities.
Pine Cone Bird Feeders– Lillian enjoyed this popular winter activity that I remember from my childhood. We collected pine cones in the park, covered them lightly with peanut butter and then rolled them in bird seed. We attached a red piece of yarn to the top and they were ready to hang on the little tree outside our window.
BinocularsMade out of two toilet paper rolls, yarn and decorated with stickers, Lillian loves her bird watching binoculars! I stapled the toilet paper rolls together and attached yarn to one side so she could wear them around her neck. We decorated our binoculars with stickers but we could have used crayons.
Cardinal Cookies- Nana joined in the fun by helping us make Cardinal Cookies! Named for the beautiful red bird who loves sunflower seeds, this easy drop cookie has a peanut butter base and is rolled in sunflower seeds prior to baking. My little one loved making the cookies but enjoyed eating them even more!
My Book of Birds Inspired by my trips to Little Creek my dad and I created this mini book years ago for my kindergarten students. It focuses on counting along with bird identification and contains beautiful illustrations drawn by my dad! We want to share our book with you! Download the reproducible book for free by clicking on this link. My Book of Birds
Read Aloud Books Featuring Birds– One of my favorite winter picture books is Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs.” This book introduces the reader to a snow family complete with a snow dog and cat! Ms. Ehlert creates beautiful snow figure collages filled with items birds and squirrels would find yummy to eat during the cold winter weather.
The number of feathered friends to visit our bird feeder was limited but we enjoyed the few wrens that ventured to our little tree. We look forward to repeating this activity next year and hope the wrens come back and bring their friends to our home for a winter feast!