Activities for toddlers and babies
Birds are very interesting for babies and toddlers, especially since they call upon three different senses; they are fun to look at, they produce beautiful sounds, and their feathers are fun to manipulate (touch). Important note: Babies and toddlers must not have access to birdseed (allergies).
Find an old calendar containing pictures of birds. Laminate them and display them on the walls of your daycare. Hang decorative birds from the ceiling (dollar store finds). You may also hang small birdhouses from the ceiling (store-bought or handmade). If you hung a tree branch horizontally from the ceiling as suggested in previous themes, use it to display these items.
ROUTINES AND TRANSITIONS
Making lunch time fun
Many books contain pictures of birds. Since these books are usually meant to be manipulated by adults, take advantage of lunch time to show children the pictures, turning the pages for them while they are seated.
Making walks more interesting
When you go for walks with your group, encourage children to look up to admire the birds on tree branches or in the sky. Stop to admire them and listen to their chirping sounds. Look for birdfeeders hung here and there throughout your neighbourhood.
Suggestions for older children: Invite children to look through their binoculars (see Arts & Crafts section). Use a binder ring to link laminated bird pictures together and create an interpretation book that you can bring along on your walks and use to identify the birds you see.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (look)
Fill a small birdfeeder with birdseed and hang it outside, next to a window. Children will be attracted to the birdfeeder, especially if it is has frequent visitors.
SENSORY ACTIVITIES (listen)
CD with bird sounds
Purchase several CDs containing bird sounds. Listen to them with your group during precise periods during the day such as when you're looking at bird pictures, before going outside for a walk (as children are getting dressed), at snack time, when children are playing with feathers, during a bird craft, etc.
ARTS & CRAFTS
You will need an empty 2-litre milk carton. Use a sheet of white paper to wrap it and let children paint it all over. Cut a small hole in the milk carton and insert a stick. Glue a decorative bird on the stick. Hang your birdhouse from the ceiling. Variation: Cut a square opening near the bottom of your birdhouse and fill it with birdseed. Hang it from a tree branch in your yard.
Let toddlers draw on two empty toilet paper rolls. Glue them together to form binoculars. Attach a ribbon that children can use to wear their binoculars around their neck (supervision required). Encourage little ones to use their binoculars for birdwatching.
You will need clear adhesive paper. Place a large square piece of adhesive paper on the floor, sticky side up. Invite children to toss feathers up in the air so they fall on the adhesive paper. Once all the feathers have fallen to the ground, set a second piece of adhesive paper on top to seal the feathers inside. Display your masterpiece in a window.
MORAL AND SOCIAL ACTIVITIES
Exploring birds with friends
To encourage toddlers to interact, have them work on a bird project as a group. Ask them to glue bird pictures and illustrations on a large piece of cardboard and display their poster on a wall when they are done.
Associating birds with pictures
Stick pictures of two or three types of birds that you see daily in a window (robin, mourning dove, blue jay, sparrow, etc.). Each time you see one of these birds through the window, point to the corresponding picture. Encourage children to name and associate the birds to the correct picture on their own.
Observation: what birds like or dislike
With older toddlers, deposit seeds, apples, crackers, or dried raisin bread on a table in your yard. You may also offer a few items you know birds will not eat, such as a large candy piece. Later in the day, identify which items birds like and dislike based on what the birds ate.
PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND MOTOR SKILLS
Have fun playing with feathers with your group. Let them manipulate them as they wish and blow on them. They can tickle each other or toss them up in the air. Encourage them to try to catch the feathers and toss them even higher in the air. Play fast-paced music to get children moving and calm music (dim the lights) to help them relax. You can also use a CD with bird sounds.
Stick and remove (fine motor skills)
This activity is great for toddlers. Laminate and cut out a picture of a tree and tiny bird pictures. Purchase Velcro at your local dollar store or fabric store. Glue male Velcro pieces all over the tree. Stick female Velcro pieces behind each bird illustration. Children will love to stick, remove, and rearrange the birds on the tree.
Bird pictures to talk about
If possible, find several heavy cardboard books designed for little hands containing pictures of birds. You may also create your own picture book using pictures from old calendars. With your group, name the color of each bird along with different bird body parts (beak, feathers, legs, etc.).
Have fun making bird sounds (tweet, tweet) for very young children. They will turn to look at you. With toddlers, try to imitate the different birdsongs you hear when you are outside.
Early childhood educator
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