Books ๐Ÿ“š Feed

๐Ÿ›Bugs ๐ŸœInsects and other ๐Ÿž๐Ÿ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธArthropods

While most adults do not have a deep affection for bugs, children, on the other hand, spend hours in a backyard flipping over rocks and inspecting blades of grass in search of the coolest caterpillars and tiny crawlers. And little ones are smart to befriend bugs since without little creature our entire ecosystem would shut down. Animals such as fish, bats, and amphibians would have nothing to eat; rivers and lakes would be overrun with algae, and flowers would remain unpollinated. Teaching children about insects is a great way for them to learn about nature in general since everything in our world is interconnected. Also, bugs are the most accessible of all creatures since children can most closely approach them. So, suppress your squeamishness and delve into the wonderful world of bugs and other insects!

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To explore bugs and insects in a fun hands-on sensorial play, I set up an Autumn-Inspired sensory bin with fresh leaves and acorns children found during nature walks, shredded paper, this bug loupe and these insects. 

DSC_0426 An ant, besides being able to lift 50 times its weigh, has the biggest brain relative to its size amongst the insect kingdom!

DSC_0426Entomology is the study of insects, including their relationship with other animals, their environments, and human beings; making Adrian an entomologist for a time being.
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Insects are creatures with three body sections, six legs, and usually four wings and two antennae. Although some people use the words "bug" and "insect" interchangeably, a bug is a certain type of insect such as boxelder bug, milkweed bug, assassin bug, and stink bug. True bugs have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. That is all bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs. Scientists have discovered already over one million species of insects: also called arthropods, and every day they are discovering new species.

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Some insects have wings, and some do not, but there are few characteristics that all insects have in common:

  • Insects do not have bones or a backbone like humans do, and thus are invertebrates, meaning that they have a hard exoskeleton or shell on the outside of their bodies which protects them.
  • All insects have three parts: the head, the thorax (the middle part), and the abdomen (the end part).
  • Insects have two antennae and six legs.
  • All insects hatch from eggs, and the babies are called larva.
  • All insects go through the same lifecycle: beginning as an egg. The egg hatches and larva emerge. Larvae usually look nothing like the adult insect. The larvae enter a pupa, chrysalis or cocoon. An adult insect emerges from the pupa.
  • Note: spiders are not insects. Spiders have eight legs, and they are related to scorpions and belong to the arachnid family. ๐ŸŒ Snails, on the other hand, are gastropods. 

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Bugs A-Z book (in the middle) is a perfect book for any child fascinated with bugs! A simple text from A to Z provides interesting and concise buggy facts in addition to reinforcing the first letter association: A is for Ant, B is for Bee, C for Caterpillar etc. Larger than life full-color photographs of creepy crawlies include locusts, caterpillars, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, ants, praying mantis, and more! Also, the facts provided under each insect are fascinating and engaging enough even for a three-year-old. At the end of the book, there is a glossary review, which I use to reinforce the concepts learned. 

DSC_0003Scorpions are not insects! They are arachnid, with eight legs, instead of six.

Scorpions can be found on all continents except Alaska (and Antarctica). They are predatory animals of the class Arachnida (having eight legs) making them cousins to spiders, mites, and ticks. Insects, on the other hand, are Arthropods with six legs, two antennae, and three-parts segmented body.

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Tarantulas are the largest known arachnids (spider family) measuring seven to ten cm in length, capable, however, of exceeding 30 cm (that is twelve inches: the size of a regular laptop). Besides their size, tarantulas are known for their dense and hairy body. Also, they are night-time (nocturnal) hunters who will pounce on their prey, such as insects, beetles, and grasshoppers. Interestingly, although not spinning traditional webs, tarantulas are capable of producing silk and can use it for similar purposes, depending on species. Many of the arboreal tarantulas make silken homes in tree holes or other crevices. Even the burrowing terrestrial species use silk to line their burrows, and some use silk to create door-like entrances to their burrows. The tarantulaโ€™s silk acts as an alarm system, alerting the arachnid to the presence of threat or prey outside its home. If the intruder is potential prey, the tarantula will capture and subdue it.

DSC_0006The cladogram below shows the relationship between the arthropod's groups:

Arthropoda
 

Chelicerata (sea spiders, horseshoe crabs, and ๐Ÿ•ท๏ธarachnids: 8 legs)

 
Mandibulata
 

Pancrustacea (crustaceans and ๐Ÿžinsects: 6 legs)

 
 

Myriapoda (centipedes, millipedes, and allies)

 

 

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To examine tiny creatures up close, children like to use this bug loupe, which provides a 5X view of whatโ€™s underneath! The above-shown Bugs collection (buy here) comes with twelve insects in clear acrylic blocks for up-close examination. A mini-guide that comes with it provides a concise description of the species included as well as interesting details. This set is a perfect starter collection of insects for any entomologist!  DSC_0003
Little Explorer Insects book (on the left - buy here) provides further insight into these buzzing, stinging, and creepy crawlers: where they live, what they eat, and why they are so important.

DSC_0074 bee copyDid you know that a bee has five eyes, none of which can see the color red!

Honey bees are very important pollinators of flowers, fruits, and vegetables, transferring pollen between the male and female parts of the plant, thus allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit. Honey bees live in hives (or colonies) everywhere except Antarctica. The members of the hive are divided into three types:

  •  Queen: One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs which will spawn the hiveโ€™s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behavior of the other bees.
  • Workers are all sterile female and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, and clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers would be the only bees we ever see flying around outside the hive.
  • Drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the Queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out! 

DSC_0003Lastly, National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Bugs (top right - buy here) explores backyard favorite bugs, such as ladybugs and lightning bugs, and also introduces more exotic species which inhabit rain forests and deserts around the world. Colorful photos are paired with profiles of each insect, along with facts about the creatures' sizes, diets, homes, and more. "Little Kids First BIG Book of" series is my children's favorite non-fiction series. 

To put all this knowledge to use, seek out ways together with your child to get to know just how amazing Earth's little inhabitants are! Parks, local playgrounds, and forests are great places to introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population. Go outside and explore by examining dead wood, banks of streams, and the underside of rocks and leaves. Backyard bugs can usually be found under potted plants, rocks or deck furniture. On forest trails, look for bugs in flowers, on trees or near water.

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During nature walks, explore the world of bugs, insects and other creatures, first hand by doing a scavenger hunt. (Do not forget a bug container, bug tweezers, and a magnifying glass.)

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Do not rush and stay close to the ground as bugs are easy to miss. Most are small and many camouflages, making them tough to spot at first glance. 

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Take it slow and let your eyes roam the area for anything that moves.

DSC_0394.JPGLook under moss, rocks, leaves or underturned trees. 

DSC_0038With close observation, you will find that local fauna is full of surprises!

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"There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees that speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving." Dr. Maria Montessori.

DSC_0038If you find a caterpillar feeding on a plant and wish to bring it home, be sure to include that exact plant it was eating since many insects can only digest one type of plant and will starve without it.

DSC_0394.JPGDr. Maria Montessori strongly believed that the intelligence was a result of joyful learning and not a mere memorization. So learning need not take place inside of a classroom: there is nothing more inviting than a forest school!

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Invite your child to be a naturalist! Zoos, botanical gardens and even local parks might offer classes which introduce children to the wonders of the local insect population.

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Having contact with nature will allow children to understand and appreciate its natural order, the harmony and the beauty in it. Such contact will allow them to be friends with animals: big and small, creeping and crawling, scary and beautiful. All Earth's inhabitants are necessary for the equilibrium of life: all life form is precious. So, let's explore, go outside and be with nature!


๐Ÿ’‰ Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study

How mysterious is the inside of the body! Children are simply fascinated to learn all about our body-machine that works day and night, without any rest, performing tasks no computer is capable of performing. Our eyelids blink reflexively, our lungs are constantly expanding and contracting, delivering fresh oxygen throughout our body. Our heart muscle relentlessly pumps blood to every cell of our body, delivering life-potent oxygen and nutrients night and day: whether we are asleep or awake. Our nervous system lets us feel, taste and experience whether pleasure or pain. Our white blood cells fight for us whenever an intruder, be it a virus, fungus or a nasty bacteria, attempts to disrupt our equilibrium. The body is an amazing mechanism, and it is our job to keep it strong, healthy and happy! And we can do it better if we know more about how does our body work! By understanding what goes on the inside of our body, which is mainly unseen and performed on a such a small scale, we can truly appreciate the work that the body is doing all the time - even if we might not know it.

DSC_0017The DK Visual Dictionary of the Human Body book [top-left] (buy here) is an amazing comprehensive compilation of anatomy of science, covering extensive topics with outstanding photographs. The brief text compresses many details into a few sentences, and the charts combined with the text give a clear overview of the subject. The book even has an illustration of an exact torso and detailed explanation of organs. This book can be appropriate for an elementary level and up. Adrian mostly looks through the pictures as the vocabulary is very scholarly.

Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body book [top-right] (buy here) is Adrian's favorite! Simple fun rhymes take a young reader for a ride through the human body where they visit the right and left sides of the brain, meet the Feletons from far off Fadin (when they stand in the sun you can see through their skin), scuba dive through the blood system, follow food and water through the digestive tract, and a whole lot more!

LeapFrog LeapReader Interactive Human Body Discovery Set (buy set here and the TAG pen here) shows a child how the amazing human body works. The set includes a jumbo, two-sided activity board, growth chart, interactive sticker sheets and glow-in-the-dark stickers. Your child will learn hands-on human body facts, body systems, and health nutrition. (Please note that the set works with Tag and the LeapReader Reading & Writing System, which is sold separately - buy here.)


DSC_0017Human Torso (buy here), comes with eight organ pieces and fully illustrated instruction manual. 

DSC_0015Did you know that the size of your child's heart is as big as his/her clenched fist? 

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The sensorial bowl filled with red hydro gels ("red blood cells") offers a tactile and visual stimulation as children have to retrieve the organs, name them and place correctly into the Human Torso Model Kit (buy here). This is a super-fun ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿปsensorial invitation to explore the inside of the body! 

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See here a ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ of how we "made" these gel beads in"Sensory Exploration with Hydro Gel โค๏ธ๏ธ Water Beads" post.


Inside of the Body Books, we are loving.

Interactive books have been favorites lately amongst my children. These informative science books are perfect for my curious explorers who have lots of questions and unending desire to flip and turn!

These wonderful flap books take a young reader on an amazing fact-filled voyage through a body from brain to toes with tons of interactive flaps to open and discover! 

1st [smaller] book featured in the ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ Look Inside: Your Body (buy here) is a wonderful flap book, which introduces children to the way their own bodies work in a fun and informative way. This hands-on book offers many surprises to keep enquiring minds entertained, including flaps beneath flaps and a cheeky peek inside a toilet cubicle. Your child will be truly fascinated to learn how their brains work, what happens when they eat, how their lungs use oxygen and much more. 

2nd [bigger] book featured in the ๐Ÿ“ฝ๏ธ See Inside Your Body (buy here) is a larger version anatomy book which further helps a young reader to get a bigger visual presentation of parts of the human body.



DSC_0037Children are also loving the entire My First Discoveries series and The Body book (buy here) is a great addition to our anatomy book collection. 
DSC_0037Through transparent overlay pages, a child will find out what happens to food and air and blood in our bodies; where our bones, muscles, veins, and nerves are; and how our brain works and controls what we do.

Children love interactive learning which makes scientific subjects fun and comprehensible despite its complexity. 

DSC_0033How the Body Works book (buy here) offers a young reader a chance to discover what makes up a small growing human body and how each of the different parts work separately and together: how do we breathe and digest food to provide energy to walk and run and play? 

  DSC_0015The transparent overlay pages add a new dimension to a traditional ๐Ÿ“– reading.


 DSC_0015Another great addition to our Anatomy unit study is this Body 5-Layer Wooden Puzzle, Boy (buy here), which includes five layers of systems that exist within the human body: skeletal, respiratory, digestive, muscular, and integumentary system. Adrian loves assembling it over and over again.  

DSC_0009See here a video post ๐ŸŽฅ "Anatomy Puzzle & DIY Interactive Puppets."


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See here a ๐ŸŽฅ video post "DIY ๐Ÿ’‰ Blood Model (BODY Anatomy Unit Study, Science๐Ÿ”ฌโš—๏ธโš–๏ธ 101 ๐ŸŽฅ Series ๐ŸŽ‡)."


 

IMG_7689We also explored how our brain and senses work: see here "The BODY: 5 Basic ๐Ÿ‘…Tastes.

IMG_7686Did you know that much of what we think of as ๐Ÿ‘…taste is actually ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปsmellโ—๏ธThe back of your nose is linked to your mouth at the throat so that you can smell the food as you chew it. That is why when you have a ๐Ÿค’cold, tiny hairs in your ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿปnose get clogged with mucus. This stops them from wafting smell particles deep into your nose and makes it hard to smell or taste things. That is exactly why you cannot "taste" anything when you have a stuffy nose!


 What's Inside Animals

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This Inside ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿด Animals flash card set (buy here) comes with 16 beautifully printed double-sided photo/x-rays. The images are protected with a special, scratch-resistant coating. The set even comes with two human skeletons to compare and contrast the image of the human to the walrus, giraffe, snake, owl, etc. 

DSC_0002These cards can be used on a light table, or with a help of a ๐Ÿ”ฆflashlight, or simply against a window (what we did) to reveal the skeletal system of the animal!  
DSC_0002This is an excellent way to introduce your child to animals and anatomy.

IMG_7667For more on Inside Body, see here "Giraffe (Inside of the BODY Anatomy Unit Study)."

Stay tuned for more anatomy lessons ...


๐ŸŒŒCOSMOS Unit Study

There is something fascinating, captivating and intriguing about the Universe! Although Cosmos appears empty and dark, it sparkles with thousands of mysterious glittering lights. Also, while purportedly having an infinite nature, the universe keeps expanding! It holds billions of galaxies, each containing millions of stars, and although the space between stars and galaxies is largely empty, it contains particles of dust, radiation (e.g. light and heat), as well as magnetic fields and high energy particles (e.g. cosmic rays).

DSC_0002What we are reading/using:

  • Julia is holding In the Sky My First Discoveries: Torchlight (buy here). Discover a torchlight which brings empty black pages to live revealing images and messages!
  • There's No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System Cat in the Hat's Learning Library (buy here) delivers content in a fun rhyming way.
  • The Visual Dictionary of the Universe Eyewitness Visual Dictionaries (buy here) is a comprehensive edition which will keep your preschooler as well as elementary child totally captivated.
  • [on the right] Ravensburger Outer Space Puzzle, 60 Piece, (buy here) with its bright illustration of our Solar system and astronauts entices Adrian to assemble it over and over again (Adrian first assembled it at 44 months).
  • [middle] Round Kids' Puzzle of the Solar System, 50 Piece, (buy here) also features the Milky Way, galaxies, quasars, asteroids, and more. The color of each planet's elliptical orbit matches the color of the planet to enhance the educational experience.

 

DSC_0029This puzzle (buy herefeatures an astonishing 2x3 feet illustration of our Solar System.

Read here about this Solar System floor jigsaw puzzle in a "National Puzzle Day" post where Adrian assembled this puzzle for the first time.

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Children also love reading National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space (buy here). This book, with its colorful illustrations and simple text, introduces young children to the wonders of Space, explaining basic concepts of the universe, beginning with what is most familiar and expanding out into the cosmos.

DSC_0024These flash cards about Outer Space (buy here) are amazing! They feature full-color photographs, many taken from NASA's own spacecraft. The back of each card offers young space explorers easy-to-understand facts about planets, stars and spaceships in our Solar System.

DSC_0029Our "Solar system"  - what does it mean? "Solar" means "of the Sun," and a "system" is a collection of objects that interact with one another to form a whole - that is the fundamental interaction for each object being the one it has with the Sun. There are many different types of objects found in the solar system: a star (our Sun), planets, moons, dwarf planets, asteroids,comets, dust and gas. The Sun comprises over 99.8% of the Solar System mass (being the biggest object in our system), with Jupiter (The Gas Giant) accounting for most of the remaining mass. All objects in our Solar System orbit the Sun - that is move around in elliptical paths. The Sun exerts enormous gravitation pull, keeping orbits of these objects, called the ecliptic planes, roughly the same, thus preventing collision or any object going astray.

DSC_0013The Universe is incomprehensibly huge: it would take a modern jet fighter more than a million years to reach the star nearest to the Sun. And, traveling at the speed of light (300,000 km per second), it would take 100,000 years to cross our Milky Way galaxy alone. Adrian used Imagination Magnets (buy here) to assemble a rocket ship. The set contains colorful pattern cards which are numbered in progressive order of difficulty, ranging from beginner to expert. As each pattern becomes more challenging, patience and confidence is gained through trial and error. (See here a post "Imaginets, Magnetic Pattern Geometric Shape Blocks & HAPE Wooden Mosaic Puzzle.")
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This hand-crafted โœจSolar System set (buy here) has been children's favorite hands-on material to go along any solar system discussion! These needle felted planets, made from wool and organic cotton, are proportionally sized to each other with names embroidered on the back. Adrian loves how ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿปhands-on COSMOS study can be! He can basically hold the Solar System in his hands.

 
DSC_0024We also talked about terrestrial (rocky) planets (1-4) and gas giants (5-8), and the asteroid belt that separates the two.

Adrian also explored the Cosmos sensorially ....
IMG_6640See here the post  โœจThe Universe ๐Ÿ‘‹๐ŸปSensory Bin (๐ŸŒŒCOSMOS Unit Study).

No one knows the exact size of the Universe since we simply cannot see the edge (if indeed there is one). All we know is that the visible Universe is at least 93 billion light-years across. (A light year is the distance light travels in one year โ€“ about 9 trillion km.) However, scientists believe that the Universe was not always the same size. They propose that before the birth of the Universe (the Big Bang which took place nearly 14 billion years ago) time, space and matter did not exist. However, one of the theories is that since the Big Bang, the Universe has been expanding outward at a very high speed, meaning that the area of space we now see is billions of times bigger than it was when the Universe was very young. Such would also imply that the galaxies are also moving further apart as the space between them expands.

DSC_0002See here ๐ŸŒ˜ Solar Eclipse Play Dough Craft DIY Big ๐ŸŒžSun -Small ๐ŸŒ‘Moon Science Experiment.

Stay tuned for more from our  ๐ŸŒŒCOSMOS Unit Study ...


The Tiny Wish Book (Our ๐Ÿ’Ž Gem ๐Ÿ“šBooks Collection)

When I asked my children what is their favorite spring-inspired book, they unanimously replied that it is The Tiny Wish (buy here), where Anja, an enchanting girl from Norway, experiences an extraordinary adventure with her animal friends. 

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Lori Evert, the New York Times bestseller author, created The Tiny Wish book together with her husband, Per Breiehagen, who is an award-winning internationally acclaimed photographer from Norway. Per's images for The Tiny Wish Book are inspired by his daughter, Anja's  love of animals, nature, fairytales and adventure.

DSC_0002Anja's adventure takes place against a backdrop of breathtaking Scandinavian mountains.
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"It was spring, and the snow had melted in all but the highest places, so Anja reluctantly put her skies away..."

DSC_0002When Anja wishes to be tiny to win a game of hide-and-seek with her cousins, her wish comes true! 
DSC_0002Just a few inches tall, Anja must find her way home with the help of some new animal friends. 

Illustrated with the most beautiful and vibrant digitized photographs, the book transcends the boundary of real and imaginary. Lori Evert poignantly portrays how different the world seems to Anja, who sees grass as trees, and who gets to soar on the back of a bird, and who can drift sailing in a boat made out of a sliver of the tree bark.


DSC_0002Tiered from her journey, Anja lays on a soft patch of moth, while a mother rabbit tenderly covers her with cotton grass.

The extraordinary photography and this enchanting story left my children bewildered,โ€œDid that really happen?โ€ when Anja, has woken up in the morning, her normal size, to see that her bed to her amazement was covered with tufts of cotton grass and flowers: "Maybe it wasn't a dream!" she said to herself. 

What do you think?

See here a post about another gem by Lori Evert, "The Christmas Wish Book", which my children loved reading over and over during past Christmas holiday.  


๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Study ๐Ÿ“šBooks and Materials

To learn about ๐Ÿฆ birds we read, look at real life photographs, observe and explore hands-on.

Fine Feathered Friends: All About Birds book (buy here) is Adrian's favorite as Cat in the Hat leads children on a bird-watching tour through entertaining rhymes and captivating facts. 

Birds each have a beak and a tail and two wings. They are covered in feathers and stand on two legs. And when they have babies, they hatch out of eggs. Birds have 3 eyelids on each eye and have no teeth. Don't ask us why!

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The Birds of North America Flash Cards (buy here) allow children to learn to appreciate and identify the rich diversity of bird life. The set comes with 48 cards, each featuring a beautiful vibrant photograph and, on the reverse, the common name, scientific name, bird's size, wing span, and other bird facts. 

DSC_0021Exploring the Northern Cardinal Bird hands-on.

We started our Bird Unit Study with birds that live around us, and Julia drew a Northern Cardinal in her Bird Journal. She would refer to Stokes Beginner's Guide to Birds: Eastern Region book/bottom-right (buy here), which is a pocket-size, brilliantly colorful, and a simple-to-use guide. This ideal introduction to the birds of the Eastern United States contains dozens of full-color photographs with details about most common species; range maps; tips on attracting and observing birds; information on habitat needs, life cycle, food preferences; and much more. 

Below are pictures of the Northern Cardinal at our backyard bird feeder.

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Julia would also refer to the National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America book (buy here), which features 100 species of birds from coast to coast. Fifty of the country's most popular birds are laid out in a stunning two-page spread, which includes information such as birds' range, the sounds they make, and the food they like to eat. Each bird's profile also includes fun fact, and a feature called "A Closer Look," which digs deeper into once aspect of the bird's life (eating habits, birdsongs, etc.). 

DSC_0029In her Bird Journal, Julia draws a picture of the bird (Blue Jay here) and writes pertinent facts.

DSC_0376 Blue Jay at our backyard feeder.

DSC_0005Adrian is fascinated with Hummingbirds in this brightly illustrated National Geographic book.


DSC_0021 YellowThe African Golden Weaver is endemic to Africa.
DSC_0021 YellowWeavers get their name because of the elaborately woven nests, which face downward. 

We had a chance to observe up close these tropical birds during our last visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Read a post "๐Ÿ’šAfrican Savanna at Disney's Animal Kingdom" here).

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Children also enjoyed the Birds of North America 100 Piece Memory Game (buy here). While looking at vivid photographs of birds and learning their names, they had a chance to train their memory and visual skills. Julia also read the bird facts on the included poster.


We also learned about bird's body parts hands on, by observing American Robin bird and assembling a Montessori Zoology puzzle. 

Read details about this puzzle as well as what we have learned about birds, such as what is the one characteristic that sets the birds apart from other animals: Is it a beak? wings? hatching from eggs?  in this post "Learning About ๐Ÿฆ Birds with a Wooden Montessori Zoology Puzzle." 


DSC_0007See here ๐Ÿฆ Bird Unit Inspired Sensory Bin (Montessori Sensorial Activity with a Math Twist).

Stay tuned for more studies on birds.