I did this activity with my co-op preschool class a few months ago. It was a hit. Everyone had to have their turn dressing up like a bird. I think they might have even learned something too…
So, I happily present to you a basic outline of how I conduct Build-A-Bird. Note that you will want to gather as many pictures and/or examples as possible when talking about the different bird adaptations.
Today we’re going to talk about how we are different from birds (show kids a picture of a bird). Look at this picture, now look at the kids next to you. How are you all different from birds?
Eggs vs Live Birth: When you were born did you hatch out of an egg? No!
We are mammals, and mammals don’t lay eggs, they give live birth.
Prop: Have child hold a plastic egg.
Flight: Can we fly like birds? No!
We can fly in airplanes, but only because we copied a bird’s wings and put them on an airplane.
Prop: Put a pair of ‘fairy’ wings on with feathers stuck to them. Or cut a pair of wings out of cardboard.
Feathers vs Skin: What covers our bodies? Skin! What covers the body and wings of a bird? Feathers! Why do birds need feathers? To aid in flight, to use as camouflage, and to keep warm.
Prop: Clip several feathers to their clothes or wrap a feather boa around their neck.
Bones: Do you think our bones are the same as birds? No!
A bird’s bones are thin and mostly hollow (sort of like a straw), they need light bones in order to fly. Our bones are thick and heavy and harder to break.
Prop: Rubber band a straw to each arm and each leg.
Nests: Where do you sleep at night? Do you think birds sleep in a bed at night? No!
They sleep in nests. Nests are made out of all sorts of things. Some are made of mud, others are made out of sticks or woven together with plants. My favorite are humming birds who use spider webs and feathers.
Prop: Arrange pillows on the ground, invite the child to sit down.
Beaks: Do we have beaks? No! How do we eat? We have mouths and utensils.
Bird beaks come in all shapes and sizes. They help the bird gather and eat food. Some beaks are long and are made for digging insects out of the mud, others are short and made for eating seeds off the ground.
Prop: Beak made out of construction paper.
Talons: If we caught a fish and wanted to eat it what would we do? Kill it, take it home, clean it, cook it, cut it up and eat it with a fork and knife. Can birds do that if they catch a fish? No! They can’t use forks and knives, they have to use their sharp beaks and talons (aka ‘feet’) to rip the food apart.
Prop: Rubber-band a fork to each foot.
For older kids you can discuss the above in more detail also adding: eye placement, ears, nose, warm blooded vs cold blooded and teeth vs gizzard.