Lately we’ve been enjoying lots of play-based learning about birds. This is the first in a series of bird themed posts that I’ll be publishing over the next week or two. I hope you’ll follow along as I share ideas for incorporating sensory and imaginative play, art, literacy, fine motor work, and more into a preschool bird themed unit.
We kicked off the fun by painting birdhouses. We’ve painted and decorated birdhouses before and my three-year old son, Peanut, never grows tired of it. Now is the perfect time to find discounted wooden birdhouses in the clearance sections of craft stores.
After enjoying the creative process of painting the birdhouses and then playing with them for a couple of days we moved full steam ahead into our bird unit.
Safari Ltd. provided us with one of its fantastic Backyard Birds TOOBs filled with realistic replicas of many of the birds who call our part of Canada home. Please note that I received the Backyard Birds TOOB free of charge. All opinions about it are entirely my own.
Our Backyard Bird friends went into a container along with bird seed, plastic eggs, craft feathers, a small bowl, and a scoop.
I put the container on our play table with one of our birdhouses, some reference books, a small wooden bowl and some lovely wooden letters spelling the word bird. Environmental print is so important for early literacy and I’ve been making a conscious effort to include books and/or words in the activities that I plan for Peanut and my daycare kids.
I set everything up on our play table on a Sunday afternoon and a delighted Peanut had it all to himself until our two daycare pals came on Monday.
He scooped and poured the birdseed and filled the birdhouse with it.
He also engaged in lots of pretend play. The little birds are the perfect size for a preschooler’s hand. Peanut loved moving them around the bin, burying them, and feeding them.
Peanut has been interested in birds for quite some time. He is most familiar with Robins, Blue Jays, Crows, and Chickadees, as he frequently sees them while playing outside. Our bird themed sensory bin was a playful way to introduce him to some new birds, such as the Cardinal and Yellow Warbler (that last one is a bit of a tongue twister for little ones!).
In the photo below he’s telling me that “the red feather came from a red Cardinal. It was a very old guy”.
Of course Peanut couldn’t resist burying his hands in the birdseed. Nor could I!
Our bird themed sensory bin can no longer really be called a bin. Most of the birds and the birdseed remain at our play table but the container has been removed and painted cans, a paper towel tube, a pinecone, and mini construction signs have been added. I love witnessing the daily changes to our play table activities as the three little ones I spend my days with add and subtract materials and play there both alone and with each other.
UPDATE: Next post in this series: Eat Like a Bird: Fine Motor Practice and Pretend Play
Thanks for reading!