Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Preschool Lab: Birds

This is the Preschool Lab I've been waiting all summer to do! I knew I wanted to do a bird program when I found the ukulele chords for Kookaburra, a song my mom used to sing to me all the time when I was a little girl. AND THEN I found out what Kookaburras actually sound like and I KNEW I had to share that with my kiddos. Here's what we did for this Preschool Lab:


Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Have You Heard the Nesting Bird? by Rita Gray. This book includes lots of fun bird sounds and led really nicely into the kookaburra sounds I wanted to share with them.

Song: Kookaburra, sung with ukulele. I introduced the uke first since we have not yet used it a TON in storytime. I shouldn't be so shy to use it - it holds their attention SO WELL.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, kookaburra, laugh, kookaburra
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, kookaburra! Stop, kookaburra,
Save some gum for me!

Media: After I sang the song, I brought out my laptop and showed the kids this short video so they can hear what a kookaburra actually sounds like!

Before I started the clip, I let everyone know that I hoped they could see but if not, it was okay. I really wanted them to LISTEN to what the kookaburra sounds like.

Felt Story: The Most Wonderful Egg in the World by Helme Heine. Oh, they laughed and laughed at this funny story about hens trying to lay the most wonderful eggs!

Song: I Know a Chicken by Laurie Berkner with shaky eggs. Of course, a story about eggs lent itself beautifully to breaking out our shaky eggs and shaking them to this song. I played the song on CD and helped lead the kids in shaking their eggs like the song instructs.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

(As you can see, I only read one book, though I had two more pulled. There are so many great bird books! Check out Storytime Katie's bird storytimes (Birds 1 and Birds 2) for more ideas!)


Cheerio Bird Feeders. I found this idea on Here Comes the Sun via Pinterest and I love it because it is simple and cheap! I cut long pipe cleaners in half and got them started by curling one end around a Cheerio. I put out plain Cheerios and let the kids go to town. This is a great fine motor activity and hopefully it will encourage some bird-watching when families return home. (Also, it's not messy... no peanut butter, no honey. We did have some crushed Cheerios on the floor, but that was no big deal to sweep up.)

Feed the Baby Birds. This activity comes from Powerful Mothering and it's another simple activity great for developing fine motor skills and reinforcing science concepts. I made "baby birds" out of large pom poms (hot-glued on wiggle eyes and yellow felt beaks), "worms" out of white pipe cleaners (curl them around your finger), and "mommy birds" out of clothespins. Kids could use the clothespins to feed worms to the baby birds and move them around the "nest". I had a few friends who camped out at this station and didn't want to leave it behind! 

Bird Beaks. This one is from To the Moon and Back, adapted with what I had on hand. Each tool (slotted spoon, tweezers, clothespin) represents a different kind of beak you might find in the bird world. Which type of beak works best for each food? The foods I used were small pom poms (replacing the mini marshmallows that Dusty used because I was afraid those would get eaten), dry black beans (leftover from last week's sound program), and more of our pipe cleaner "worms". I tried to talk to kids as much as I could at this station because while they loved dumping everything in the water and stirring, it's not a very self-explanatory station. This might be a better station with a smaller group or one-on-one. 

We had our biggest crowd yet for this Preschool Lab (I counted 30 kids in the room) and I'm so happy to share a program I felt great about with such a great crowd! We only have one more week of summer Preschool Lab, and I'm definitely going to write up how the program went overall once we're done.