Partly inspired by one student’s “bird journal” (a reference to his sketch journal—All of his entries this year have been about birds), and partly inspired by seasonal migratory patterns, a bird theme emerged in our classroom. After searching for “birds” in the YCBA’s collection, a sweet sculpture appeared: Henry Moore’s “Bird and Egg”.
We recorded the children’s observations, which included statements such as “I see two tiny holes” and “It doesn’t have a mouth”. The children then illustrated their observations.
Next, inspired by a previous blog post by James, we had our students look at the sculpture and pretend that the bird and egg were part of a story. As they studied the sculpture, the children collaboratively told the following:
Once upon a time, there was a bird. There was a princess picking some flowers. Some guys were hurting the bird, so it flew away. The bird sat on its egg, and it hatched. A man saw the princess picking the flowers. The man and the princess got married. They got the bird as a pet. The baby bird’s mommy flew away, so the baby bird was sad. The baby bird got attacked, but the mommy bird came back and saved it.
We decided that it would be important for the children to try their hand at sculpting their own birds. We found an old bag of powdered cellulose fiber, which, when blended with water, becomes a sticky, textural clay. It was the perfect base for our bird sculptures. Finishing the sculptures then became a multi-step process, which included painting, feathering, adding eyes, beaks, etc.
Finally, the children wrote facts that they have learned about birds. We displayed these with their birds and a collaboratively created tree sculpture in our “Bird Museum” in our classroom. A trip to the Connecticut Audubon Society capped off our bird study.