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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Birding with Young Kids

At 18-months-old Teddy spends his days doing lots of different things - running, climbing, throwing. So so much movement. But, one of the things that immediately gets Teddy to be so still with attention are birds. We happen to have a pet bird, Harold. But beyond that the wild birds that enjoy our back yard and our neighborhood. If you would have asked me a few years ago about our wild birds, I would have told you we don't get many good ones because we live in an urban area. But, that is not true. A couple of years ago we started to get into amateur birding. 


Especially over the last year at home we really have been able to slow down, take note of the birds, and really enjoy their presence. But there are so many amazing ways to enjoy this simple gift of nature. I know I used this quote recently in another post but it rings true here too, Maria Montessori said, "There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest." So often we are willing to read books about birds or make matching work, or whatever about them - but what about the real thing?! 

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Here are a few Montessori friendly ideas on how to enjoy birding, even in a fairly urban area:
  • Name and identify birds you see from your home. Use their most proper names. 
  • Add a bird feeder to your yard or to your window
  • Gather or place bird safe nesting material in your yard, or hang from your window. You can purchase a material hanger or gather items with your kids. 
  • Make bird feeders from natural materials - half-orange peels filled with peanut butter and seeds are a popular and easy project here 
  • Add child sized binoculars to your home 
  • Add books about local birds to your shelves - I love this series (there's one for many U.S. states) or if you happen to also be in Minnesota - this one is good
  • Make your bird seed accessible to your child - add a scoop or container they can use for more independent feeder filling 
  • Learn bird calls (this book is a great resource for Midwestern U.S.) and then go on a listening walk. 
  • Older child: Tally and graph the types of birds. Write down common types of birds that you see over a couple days. Then, place a tally mark next to that bird's name every time you see one of that species. After a week, make a bar graph to see what was the most common. This is a favorite activity for Henry (9) and Nora (6). 
  • Hunt for male and female pairs - for many species males and females look differently. Go on a walk, look out your window or try at the park - to find matches for common birds in your area. These cards can help. 
  • Care for a bird bath. Give your child a scrub brush and watering can. Show them how to clean and refill a bird bath in your yard. 
  • Try some new seed/feed options for a variety of birds - add some mealworms, suet cakes, or scatter on the ground for a new variety of bird options. 
  • Older child: Keep a birding journal with birds you've seen from your home, in your neighborhood or out in the world. 

I hope this gives you some fun ideas for how to bring this wonderful bit of nature to your children in an easy way. No matter where you live, there will be interesting little birds flying around. Often, we just need to make time to notice them. 

Do you or your children enjoy birding activities? 

Easy, fun, low cost Montessori friendly birding activities that you can do from anywhere. These activities work for a variety of ages and interests.

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