Did you know that different animals sense the world differently? Ms. Bonnie introduced us to 2 spectacular animals today. We met a leopard gecko and used our sense of touch to feel how bumpy their skin is. Later we observed a chinchilla to see how they use their whiskers to sense the world. Chinchillas are one of the softest animals we've ever touched! While on our nature walk, Ms. Bonnie found a cool cicada molt that she let us hold.
We ended our Bird Discovery week learning about ornithologist Frank Chapman and bird counting. Our group did some research on a few local birds and learned how to make a bird journal and field guide. We donned binoculars and went on a bird watching hike where we spotted an American robin and a cardinal. Later we met the canaries and listened to local bird sounds so we can identify some of them now! Thanks to a generous donation from a friend of APEC, we got to color a canvas depicting bird habitats or places that a bird might visit.
Today we got an in-depth introduction on bird feathers. Why do birds have feathers and why are they practical? Did you know different bird feathers can act like an umbrella, a sponge, or a Matador's cape?! Ask us campers and we can tell you all about it! Ms. Karen prepared a rather tricky bird feather identification game and a feather race using fly swatters! After our walk in nature we heard all about some gross but brilliant bird adaptations and met Boon, APEC's resident Quaker Parrot.
We learned all about feathers today! That's what covers all birds' bodies. It helps keep them warm, helps some birds fly, and helps some camouflage. Ms. Bonnie taught us the words for different parts of a feather - our favorite part is the vane because that's the fluffy part and it's good for..... tickle fights! Later, Ms. Bonnie brought out Luna the lovebird who has lots of brightly colored blue feathers. After our nature walk we practiced some graphing and read one of our favorite books, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, by Mo Willems.
Mammals have some pretty amazing adaptations! In fact, humans have got 2 adaptations that we use but don't think much about. Can you guess what they are? Thumbs! We tried a no-thumbs challenge today and taped one of our thumbs to the palm of our hand while we tried doing everyday tasks like writing and picking things up. It was nearly impossible! Overall, we'd give thumbs, two thumbs up! After our challenge, we ventured into the park in search of mammals like chipmunks and squirrels and observed how they are adapted to their environment.
True or False - Bird Brain edition got us thinking about little-known bird facts and bird misconceptions. For example, did you know that not all owls are nocturnal?! Or that emu eggs are green?! (Dr. Seuss was right!). Ms. Karen brought in a bunch of cool tools for us to use as bird beaks and try to match each tool to the correct food. She even brought in a toucan beak - they are so strong! After lunch we went outside and did some migrating in a V-formation.
We continued on our journey to becoming junior ornithologists. We studied various bird nests and learned how impressive bird architects really are. We had a challenge to match bird eggs with the bird who laid them. Learning more about oviparous or, egg laying, animals we studied the strength of eggs and concluded that they were very strong! Especially after no one in the class was able to break the egg by squeezing it - phew! Outside we held some spoon and egg races. So much fun!
Birds are marvelous engineers! Today we examined real birds nests to see how they were constructed and what materials were used by the birds. Natural fibers like dry grasses and twigs are mostly what they use but, we noticed that some nests had feathers inside to help keep the baby birds warm. While outside, we tried making our own nests of natural materials. Back inside we met some canaries and wrapped things up by making a bird craft!
After learning about bird characteristics, we tried constructing our own nests using tweezers to represent bird beaks. It's a lot harder than it sounds! We can't believe how easy birds make it look! After building our nests we balanced marbles on top of our nests to test their strength. The marbles represented - you guessed it - eggs!
The theme this week is Discovering Birds! The group meet and discussed 5 things that we have in common with birds. They examined the skeleton of a bird and researched a bird after learning a few facts about them. Feathers were available for exploration and the learners were able to preen them. Outside the group listened to Henry the Impatient Heron and learned some adaptations of the Great Blue Heron. Using some their senses on a nature walk they observed American robins, mourning doves and European starlings. They heard various bird calls on the hike back. Doug, our resident bobwhite quail, gave quite a chase in the classroom, to the delight of the children. APEC Educator Mr. Zach saved the day!