In mid-March, the Kindergartners and 1st graders began an intensive focus on birds. What is a bird, how are animals grouped or classified, and what qualities make birds unique compared to other animals?
Our class compiled an impressive list of attributes that they feel define birds. The list stated, among other features, that to be a bird you must have:
and lay eggs
Teachers also added to the list, explaining that birds are vertebrates, have specialized (monocular) vision that is different from ours, excellent hearing, a food crop and gizzard, and a preening gland.
Students then investigated how the beaks and feet of different birds are specialized for the types of food each enjoys. To start, they compared the beaks and feet of the Eagle, Quail, Pelican, Robin, Ostrich, and Woodpecker to each other. We began to notice the different features of beaks; that beaks for cracking seeds are quite different from beaks used for probing nectar.
Our investigation led us to the bird identification guides where 1st graders scanned the pages looking for several examples of bird beaks that fit into each category: the seed eaters, the meat eaters, the nectar drinkers, insect eaters, plant eaters, fish eaters, and fruit eaters. Later they matched how the feet, of these same birds, paired with the types of foods that each bird must find; they found grasping feet, scratching feet, swimming feet, perching feet, running feet, and climbing feet.
Students are getting a feel for form and function, how the beak and feet are designed to complement each other in helping each bird to find and to eat their food!