The Nature Tot program is for 3-year-olds with an adult. Class size is limited to 20 participants. Programs are outside, unless weather does not permit.
Make finger puppets out of rubber glove fingers and feathers or simply use your fingers.
Peter and Paula Fingerplay
Two little birds up on a wall, (one finger on each knee)
One named Peter, one named Paula. (wiggle each finger when named)
Fly away Peter, fly away Paula. (fly finger behind back)
Come back Peter, Come back Paula. (bring finger back to knee)
Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert
“What do birds eat?” Show pictures of the birds in the story. Share what each bird likes to eat.
“How many of you have bird feeders at home?” Show different kinds of birdseed.
See Background Information.
Pass around bird feathers. Craft feathers work well. Show how it unzips if you pull the feather gently away from the shaft. Now zip it back together again with your fingers. Birds must have nice neat feathers in order to fly and keep warm. This activity is called preening.
- Play duck, duck, goose as a parent/child team
- Migration Headache game from Nature Scope. Explain to the group that birds migrate (move) in the fall because they cannot find food in the winter. Have children pretend to be a bird that migrates. Ask them to ‘migrate’ south for the winter by running from one end of a field or room to the other. Have them migrate back north to find a nest. Nests can be trees or paper plates scattered around playing field.
- Feed Baby Birds. Tell the children they are the mommy or daddy bird. The adults becomes the baby birds. Ask the children to make a nest of twigs and grass on the ground, within a designated area. Have “mommy” and “daddy” birds fly to food source (popcorn in large bowls). Pick it up with their beak (2 fingers in a beak shape) and fly back to baby and feed them. Repeat until popcorn is gone.
- Fly with scarves to music. Pretend the scarves are wings and dance to the music.
Activity #1: Pine Cone Bird Feeders
Tie a string to one end of a pine cone. Spread pine cones with a peanut butter and cornmeal mixture. Place pine cone in a large container with sunflower seeds inside. Replace lid and shake. Take out pine cone and hang in a nearby tree.
Activity #2: Feathered Friends
Have children ‘color’ a line drawing of a bird with glue sticks (not crayons). Have children add craft feathers on their bird to make their own feathered friend.
Up in the sky, the little birds fly (flutter hands)
Down in their nests the little birds rest (hands in lap)
With a wing on the left and a wing on the right, (flutter left hand then right hand-as leader, do the opposite hand if facing the children)
The little birdies sleep all night (fold hands under cheek)
Snack: Birdseed Snack
Tell the children that you are giving them bird food for a snack. In cups place an assortment of soy nuts (instead of nuts in case of allergies), raisins, gummy worms, popcorn, cheerios, etc.
Pet cats are the number one predator of song birds. Attaching a bell to your pet’s collar can alert birds to their presence. Notice the bell on the cat’s collar in the story? That must be why the cat only got feathers for lunch!
Inexpensive mixed birdseed is often wasted because it contains seeds that many feeder visitors find undesirable. For example, many birds that like the round millet seed are ground feeders. They will not visit bird feeders that are 3 feet off the ground. Birds that do visit these feeders want the other more desirable seeds. Sunflower seeds are a good all-purpose bird feeder seed. If you would like to eliminate the mess of the sunflower shells, buy sunflower kernels.
Activities provided by:
Polk County Conservation Board
Nature Tots is funded by Polk County Conservation Board, West Des Moines Park and Recreation, and the Des Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League.