This guest post is from Amara Jordan, the Resident Services Coordinator at AHC Inc., an affordable housing nonprofit in Arlington, Virginia. AHC’s Summer Camp program is designed to prevent learning loss — a particular challenge for low-income students — through both educational and enrichment experiences.
September 15, 2022
Although our main theme for the summer was related to Disney, we were beyond excited for the opportunity to incorporate Bird Buddies into our curriculum once a week, for six weeks. Each week the students learned a new topic about birds.
Week 1: Introduction to Bird Buddies
The first week of incorporating Bird Buddies into our camp was spent introducing the theme of birds to the students. I asked the class to share with the group anything and everything they know about birds. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how much knowledge our kids have about birds. I then went over the topics that we would cover in the upcoming weeks. I also introduced a few bird words to class such as ornithologist, species, and extinction.
During the second half of the day, the students learned the importance of having a bird journal. The students then created their own bird journals. We used the Bird Buddies name cards that were provided in the binders as book covers for their journal. The students enjoyed decorating their bird journals. Then the students wrote down interesting facts or key terms that they know about birds.
Week 2: Feathers
For our second week, our focus was on feathers and formulating a research question about birds. The students were introduced to different types of feathers and showcased the parts of the feather and types of feathers diagrams so that they could have a visual.
For the activity, the students wrote and drew about the different types of feathers. We then shifted our focus to a research question. I shared with the students the importance of being curious, taking time to formulate a research question they are interested in exploring, and then doing the research. The kids then wrote down in their bird journals one or two research questions about birds that they are interested in researching next week.
Week 3: Research
The students spent their third week of Bird Buddies exploring their research questions. Before the students used a kid-friendly online search engine to research their questions, they first wrote down their hypotheses. The students wrote down their findings in their bird journals. A group of students were beyond excited to share their findings with the class.
Week 4: Beaks, Habitats, and Prey
Our topic for the fourth week of Bird Buddies was on beaks, habitats, and prey. Our students read Beaks! and How Raven Got His Crooked Nose. We then covered the following key terms: habitat, species, beaks, auriculars, diurnal, talons, nocturnal, pishing, and prey.
The kids were then asked to write and draw in their journals what their own habitat looks like and what a bird’s habitat looks like.
Week 5: Habitat
For the fifth week of camp, we continued our conversation about habitats, but this time we took a bird walk! The students went on a short walk to explore nature and to get a firsthand look at the birds’ habitat. We got to see a few Blue Jays that frequent our neighborhood. When they stopped at a grassy area near a park where students wrote and drew in their journals.
Week 6: Overview of birds, read aloud, Bird Buddies certificate celebration
For the last week of Bird Buddies, we reviewed key terms and stories we learned in the past five weeks. I then read All the Birds in the World to students. To see if they were paying attention, I tested their knowledge by asking them interactive questions every couple of pages. The kids enjoyed this book!
We then wrapped up our Bird Buddies activity with a few words of advice from myself. I encouraged my students to take the time out of their day to keep learning about birds and to be in nature more often. I encouraged them to go on bird walks with their families. And if that is not feasible for them, I encouraged them to be off their phones whenever they are outside so they can appreciate nature. Lastly, each student was given a Bird Buddies program certificate. The students felt very accomplished!