When I was teaching Reading in the elementary school, I was always searching for children’s books for me to read aloud to the kids and for them to read on their own. I created a unit about birds that the kids really enjoyed. I included both fiction and nonfiction titles, graphic organizers, drawing, a craft, and writing activities. Then I did the same thing for bats.
As far as good stories for kids go, Stellaluna is an all-time favorite. It is about a baby bat that gets lost and lands with a family of birds. This book leads to learning about Problem and Solution. Students also researched the habitats of birds and compared it with that of bats. We drew pictures, wrote our own stories, and ended by making bird feeders to bring home. I read this story on my You Tube Channel, Creating Smart Readers (link to the right).
Here is a link to making Bird Feeders for kids:
- Bats at the Beach, P-3, No Lexile available
- National Geographic, Bats, K-3, Lexile 690
- Bats, 1-3, Lexile 630
The Bat Cave
To encourage research on bats, I arranged stacks of kids books on tables all around the room so the children could browse and read the ones they liked. After our study on bats, pairs of students used gel pens to write facts on black paper bat shapes. Then they entered our cardboard “Bat Cave” (thanks to the custodians) with flashlights. Using tape, they hung the bat shapes all over the walls. This was one of my most memorable lessons in 20 years of teaching. Not only did the principal come to visit, other teachers asked to bring their classes in to see the cave. You can create your own Bat Cave using boxes or even a homemade tent made from sheets and blankets. Check out the many virtual tours and informational videos on You Tube.
Connect to Nonfiction
Together, the students and I also read How Do Birds Find Their Way? This book iss loaded with information but also with inferences (hidden information) that we spent a lot of time uncovering.
It was very tricky to uncover all the good stuff in this book but the kids pressed on and we finally figured out that birds use their “instincts,” or hidden GPS, to figure out where they are going and when to come back. Navigating all the text features of this book took teaching, time, and practice. There are charts and maps that add to the wonderful details in this kids’ book.
- Dr. Seuss, Fine Feathered Friends, P-3, Lexile 600
- Birding Adventures, Grades 3-7, No Lexile available
- National Geographic, Birds, 3-7, Lexile 1030
Try Bird Watching
This link will bring you to an article about bird watching for kids from the Audubon Society.
Notice the Lexile Levels
Notice that the Lexile level (reading level) of How Do Birds Find Their Way? is 620 which is at the beginning of 4th grade for the average reader. In my opinion, most children in grades one, two, and three are not skilled enough to understand how to read “between the lines” and to connect all the text ideas presented in the maps, charts, and drawings in this book. There are also flashbacks to ancient times, talking about what scientists back then thought about migration of birds. However, with adult guidance, they can glean the information given in the story so it makes good sense.
Connect to Other StoriesMINGO Guide. A jumbo book on Read-Aloud guides is available to purchase using the link to the right. Albert is a great story about a man who faces a decision about saving a bird’s nest full of eggs. I will read it on You Tube soon. And, of course, Rechenka’s Eggs is about a goose that lays unusual eggs. Here is the Read-Aloud guide for it Rechenka.
This is a link to kid-friendly Pysanky egg decorating. http://www.homeschoolroom.com/pysanky-eggs-with-kids/
Spring is here and birds are chirping in the trees. Bats are roosting at night. I hope you will find some useful activities for your kiddos – especially during this time when we are staying home.
Please let me know which kids books and activities you and your children are enjoying. If you subscribe to this Blog, you will receive notification of each new Post. Likewise, you will receive a notice for each new story that I read on You Tube if you subscribe there. Please note, that I will NEVER use your information in any way for myself or to sell/share with others.