don’t blink

PBH Project: Birds of Prey and Backyard birds
February 28, 2014, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

For the Project based part of our homeschooling, Fin and Alice have been focusing on Birds of Prey (BoP). I guess you could say we officially started the project back in September but Fin has long interested in Birds of Prey and Alice kind of jumped in with backyard birds after we began.

How did we start:
I began the year asking the kids what they wanted to learn. Alice said princesses and sheep. Finley said Birds of Prey and Robotics.

How it progressed: Alice’s projects seem to be pretty short. We talked about the fact that there are real princesses and where they live. We also discussed what real royal jewels look like especially tiaras. We spoke about what makes a real princess a princess and discussed royal lineage a little. Regarding sheep we read some books from the library books about sheep, Read one of my favorite books, Charlie Needs a Cloak, discussed how there are different kinds of sheep and they live different places and produce different kinds of wool. She seemed really interested in the wool to yarn process. So we talked about carding and spinning the wool etc. What I have noticed with A is that when I specifically ask her about what she wants to learn, she only is interested in the subject for a day or so and usually doesn’t revisit it or stay marinating with it for very long. Since then she has kind of happened on projects, like sewing, an she continually comes back to it weekly. With Fin, we started the year splitting our project time about 50-50 between Birds of Prey and Robotics. But I could tell right away that the robotics just didn’t hold the same interest for Fin as Birds of Prey. Eventually the robotics thing fell to the waist side and BoP became the focus of all of our project time. We had the very good fortune to discover a couple good BoP bird cams.


Dick Pritchett Eagle Cam:
We were lucky enough to start watching the Eagles right before they laid a clutch of eggs. We’ve been able to observe them eating, building the nest to prepare for the arrive of the eggs and even how they react when threatened.



Alessondra’s OKC Great Horned Owl Cam
Again we got really lucky! We discovered this cam right after the Owl had laid 3 owlet eggs! So far we have been able to observe the eggs hatching, the catches of the day, and the feeding of the owlets.

These cams have become the spine of our BoP Project. We check them several times a day and discuss all kinds of things.  The cams have also led to Alice’s interest in backyard birds so we usually spend some time observing birds via the cornell university bird cams. It was nice to see Alice take to this project with so much gusto! She began watching the cams and drawing the birds and decided that she wanted to write and illustrate her own bird book. She burned bright and fast and the bird book project lasted about a week and a half before her interest started to decline.

Fin’s interest however has stayed pretty much the same. He is still very interested but he doesn’t produce a lot of physical expressions of his interest. I have to constantly check myself because I have a difficult time not thinking of this behavior as lazy. I know he has the information in there…I just have a difficult time easing him into ways to express them and providing him with the tools to make his learning more active. But I am working on it. Besides the cams we have spent a far amount of time bird watching, we know that there are a couple of Red-tailed hawks in our neighborhood so we have been trying to find them when we are out in the neighborhood, the kids got to attend an event called RaptorFest where they got to get up close to all kinds of BoP, we dissected an owl pellet and tried to identify the bones, we have measured the size of next on our carpet with masking tape and compared the sizes of a hummingbirds next to an eagles next and so on. We’ve used our birdcam and our bird books to help us ID birds when we didn’t know what they were and have corresponded with the experts over at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology via Twitter to get clarity when we weren’t sure. We’ve read so many good books, I will have to do a posting on them eventually but quickly this one was excellent, especially because the Eagles we were observing had laid eggs. This one about Pale Male was good for us being it is about Red Tailed Hawks living here in NYC. Since we recently discovered Alessodra’s  Great Horned Owl cam we’ve been reading this one and this one.

Where are we now:
I would say we are still going strong with the all the bird projects. As I mentioned I have a difficult time figuring out how to encourage Finley to create a physical expression of what he has learned. He doesn’t take to art without a lot of convincing and he has a difficult time writing. Not with expressing expressing what he wants to write but I do believe he becomes overwhelmed with the physicality of writing and thinking of what to write and processing all of the “rules” of writing like capitalization, commas etc. Alice is in and out of many things but she still comes back to the birds at least once a week. She is definitely more interested in the observation than the nitty gritty details, so it has been nice to start off at her level and then when me and Fin start to dig deeper she is happy enough to begin something new or hangout and listen.

What’s next?
As if I know! We will just keep digging deep until we feel we have finished. I have noticed that Fin is somewhat less eager to check the cams. But I think if I can engage him with the goal of a making something then we will be on to another phase of this project. I was had planed on including photos of what they have done thus far but this post is getting long! The next post will include photos of what they have created.


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

very cool!

Comment by Lori

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