Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nature Inspires Learning

Monday morning a child in our class brought in an abandoned birds nest with an empty robin egg inside. I set it in a beautiful basket and covered the bottom in rocks. I then put out paper, black, brown and blue pencil crayons, pastels and pencils. As the children came in, I noticed two children sitting at the table with the bird’s nest deep in concentration. I was not too sure what was happening but I couldn’t wait to join them so that I could see what they were up to!

The two children had sketched the bird’s nest. As I asked about their photos, they explained that they added extra detail to show where the nest would be outside. The children noticed all the different materials the birds used to build the nest as they captured it in their sketch. They began discussing what type of bird was in the egg, "a robin because its blue!" said one child. "I wonder how they get out of the shell?" asked the other child. I brought them over to the computer and we researched the stages of a baby bird. The children were so excited; "oh they are so cute in this picture!" one child said as she pointed to the picture of the baby birds just hatching.

We printed off nine stages, from egg to a baby bird. One child set the pictures out in order from the first stage to the last - "lets label them! You do up to four, I will do the rest," he instructed the other child. They worked as a team to order the photos counting as they went. "We will need to write about each stage," she said. By this time, the children had been working for an hour and a half and it was time to get ready for outdoor play - but I encouraged their thoughts by putting their work in a folder that they could use in the afternoon.

The authentic literacy and numeracy that developed from this provocation could not possibly be mirrored in a structured small group. The depth of their thinking and their motivation to use literacy and numeracy was remarkable and genuine.

 Just before we cleaned up, we used watched a video of birds hatching from an egg! Before we knew it we have seven children surrounding the small phone watching the miracle of a bird being born! The silence among the seven children as they listened to the baby bird truly captured how beautiful the moment was. "They use their beck’s to peck their way out!" said one child, answering their question that began this inquiry!

Today the children grew in number in this interest. We loaded a live camera of a nest of eagles to our computer and throughout the day the children sketched and watched intently as the mother eagle fed her babies, left the nest, returned...truly magical!

We have asked "how do birds make strong nests?" and will continue to explore this inquiry with the children.


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