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Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

This homeschool nature study will have you looking at winter birds and in particular the sweet little chickadee.

I consider this particular challenge as a personal lesson/revelation that nature knows no borders. You see when we first started using the Outdoor Hour Challenge and this little bird popped up as the focus of our weekly studies I was disappointed. I live in the UK and we have different birds to those of you in the States. I didn’t think that we would be able to follow along and it was so early on in our nature study days that I did not have the confidence to just find something else on our walk.

As I was gazing out of the dining room window at our bird feeder pondering on my dilemma, who should come along but a coal tit!

They are no stranger to our feeders along with their cousins the great tit, blue tit and those sweet mouse-like birds, the long-tailed tit.

The coal tit looks remarkably similar to the chickadee. After a bit of investigating I discovered that the American Chickadee and the British tits are all in the same genus. Yes, we may live across the pond and have wildlife that is unique to each country but there are similarities and connections.

From that challenge on if it was focussed on an animal or plant unique to the States, I would simply see if we had something similar and go with that. So please be encouraged to do the same whatever country you live in.

Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

Nature Study Lesson Plans for Chickadee Nature Study

Here are some inside preparation ideas for your chickadee nature study:

  1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 68-69 (Lesson 14).
  2. Highlight a few of the questions in the lesson to use during your outdoor time.
  3. Check your bird field guide, using the index to look for chickadees in your area. Share the images with your children.
  4. Younger Children: Read Burgess Bird Book Ch. 37 online or listen to an MP3 recording to hear the chickadee story.
  5. YouTube: Chickadee Documentary and What Do Chickadees Eat? 

Outdoor Hour Time: 

  1. Use some of your outdoor time this week to look for backyard birds. Chickadees should be present during the winter season and are often found at backyard feeders. Remember the questions from the Handbook of Nature Study lesson and gently guide your children to observe the chickadee to find the answers. Chickadees are often seen with nuthatches and downy woodpeckers and are attracted to feeders that offer suet and black oil sunflower seeds.
  2. In areas that do not have chickadees, observe another feeder bird and their habits. Do they sit on the feeder or under the feeder? Which kinds of food do they like? What do they sound like? How big are they? How many of them are at the feeder?

Chickadee Nature Study Homeschool Follow-Up Activity:

  1. Follow-up your outdoor time by pulling out your bird field guide to identify and/or confirm any bird observations. If you saw a chickadee, have your child describe the bird with as much detail as possible. If they have trouble remembering, bring up an image on the computer to help them along.
  2. If desired, allow time for a nature journal entry. Ebook users: Complete a Chickadee notebook page (regular or advanced) or a Winter Feeder Bird notebook page entry to capture the memory of your time outdoors. There is an optional coloring page included in the ebook.
  3. Advanced follow-up: Read Distinguishing Chickadees. Read about Tricky Chickadees (Black-capped and Carolina). Compare two chickadees (notebook page included in the ebook).
Homeschool Nature Study: The Chickadee

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OHC More Nature Study Book #4: Hummingbirds and Nests

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More Nature Study Book #4
Hummingbird Study – Summer Birds

This week is bird watching week!
You may find that your family likes birds so much that you decide to keep a running list of birds you see this summer. You can see Outdoor Hour Challenge #5-Keeping a List for more ideas. You can print a notebook page to record your birds or use your nature journal.

Here is a video that will inspire you to start your own hummingbird feeder station in your yard:
Hummingbird Station

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read pages 115-117 (Lesson 29) in the Handbook of Nature Study. There is also a section on pages 46-47 (Lesson 7) that focuses on The Study of Birds’ Nests in Winter. Read for information and highlight questions you can use in the future when you observe a bird’s nest.
  • You absolutely must watch this video of a Hummingbird Building a Nest. Most of us will never experience this in person so a video is the next best thing! You can also read the previous Outdoor Hour Challenge for Hummingbirds where we focused on their beaks. Read online: Burgess Bird Book for Children: A Butcher and a Hummer.
  • Advanced Study: Use a local field guide to familiarize yourself with birds you may see in your neighborhood. You can also use this tool on the Great Backyard Bird Count: Explore Results By Location. Enter your town and the site will generate a list of birds seen during the count. Note that you may see different birds during the summer months but it will give a starting point to use with your field guide. Ebook Users: Print several of the Bird Nature Study Observations sheets included with the ebook (used with permission from HeartsandTrees).

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Take your outdoor time for this challenge early in the day and look for birds before it is too hot. If you have hummingbirds in your neighborhood, spend some time observing their behavior. Watch for any birds that visit your yard or at your feeder. Compare any birds you have to the hummingbird: size, beak, tail, food, color, flight.
  • Advanced Study: Ebook Users: Use the Bird Observation sheets included with the ebook to make a careful study of any backyard birds you view for this challenge.

Follow-Up Activities:

  • Use a field guide to identify any birds you observed during your outdoor time. Complete a nature journal entry for any bird you observed. If you would like to complete a notebook page for hummingbirds, the NotebookingFairy has some very simple free pages for you to print.
  • Advanced Study: Complete a nature journal entry for a hummingbird you have in your local area. Use a field guide for more information. Ebook Users: There is also a notebook page in the ebook for recording more nest and beak information.

Additional Links:
YouTube: Hummingbird Chirp
YouTube: Mama Hummingbird feeds her Babies (in the nest)

Nests and Beaks Links for the Notebook Page:

All the summer challenges for 2012 are included in the new More Nature Study Book #4 Summer Sizzle ebook. The challenges in the ebook are the same challenges that will post every Friday here on my blog. If you want to follow along with notebook pages and coloring pages, click over and learn more about the ebook.

More Nature Study Summer @handbookofnaturestudy


Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy

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OHC More Nature Study #7 House Sparrow

Outdoor Hour Challenge House Sparrow @handbookofnaturestudy

More Nature Study #7
House Sparrow (English Sparrow in the Handbook of Nature Study)

Inside Preparation Work:
1. Read pages 83-85 in the Handbook of Nature Study (Lesson 20 English Sparrow). Highlight some points you can share about the house sparrow with your children.
2. If you have a bird field guide, use the index to look up the House sparrow and any other sparrows you may have in your area.
3. Let your children see an image of the House sparrow and have them describe what they see. (You may use the information in the Additional Links section below.)
4. Younger Children: Read the Burgess Bird Book chapter on the English(House) Sparrow online. Listen to an MP3 recording of the chapter.

Outdoor Hour Time:
1. Seize the opportunity to observe a House sparrow during your week. This may need to be done from a window at first but outdoors is always better if you can keep still and quiet as you observe. If you have a pair of binoculars, take them along with you so you can view the sparrow’s features. Try to observe their color, size, beak, tail shape, and behavior. Look for House sparrows in your yard in bushes or hedges, in parks, or even around buildings in urban areas.
2. If you don’t have a House sparrow to observe, choose another bird and have your child describe its features. (It is always good to compare size, shape, beak, and tail.)

cherry tree

Follow-Up Activity:
1. After your Outdoor Hour time, take a few minutes to follow-up your bird observation time. Pull out your field guide and learn a little bit more about any birds you were able to view.
2. Allow the opportunity for a nature journal entry, a notebook page, or time to color the accompanying coloring page.
3. Advanced follow-up: Compare the House sparrow with another sparrow in your neighborhood. You can use the accompanying notebook page for your notes (ebook users only).
4. Advanced follow-up: Watch for the House sparrow in all four seasons. Keep a record of what months you see them in your yard or neighborhood.

Additional Links:
All About Birds: House Sparrow
My HubPage on birdfeeders: Birdfeeders in the Winter
Advanced students—for research: House Sparrow

Please note these are affiliate links to products I love and highly recommend.

More Nature Study Autumn

This challenge is part of the More Nature Study – Autumn series. All of the challenges are gathered into one ebook with notebooking pages (regular and for advanced students) and additional resources. You can gain access to this ebook by purchasing an Ultimate Naturalist membership here on the Handbook of Nature Study. See the Join Us page by clicking the link at the top of the website for more information about what comes with your Ultimate membership.

Ultimate Ebook Library @handbookofnaturestudy