Resources for Teaching Languages to Children


Cheerios Bird Feeders: A Simple Outdoors Activity for World Language Classes

A POSITIVE ASPECT FOR ME OF TEACHING IN THE TIME OF COVID HAS BEEN THE IMPETUS TO INCREASE MY OUTDOORS LESSONS, which has been beneficial both for me and my students who love & look forward to these outings. While I have always taken kids outside at various points during the fall & spring, the greater safety of teaching outdoors during the pandemic has pushed me to search out new activities to get us out of the building all year round. 

BRAINSTORMING WARMER WEATHER ACTIVITIES has been relatively easy, but WINTER is long here in Maine, so I can't wait it out... ;) In thinking about what I could do with my students during the colder season, I took some moments to consider what we have available-we are lucky to have a stretch of woods through which is a nature trail. Inhabited by birds, squirrels, chipmunks and other critters, it is a great place to take students for all kinds of activities-this led to me try building a lesson around kid-created bird feeders. A search on Pinterest led me to Cheerios strung on pipe cleaners (see post here), appealing in their simplicity & likelihood to not be an issue for students with allergies (I did double check with our school nurse before making these). 

Because we are in the time of covid, I distributed Cheerios into small cups, one for each student so there was no need for sharing. 
I also went with colored pipe cleaners so I can find them easily later and collect them-they can be re-used by stringing new Cheerios on them, or be thrown away in the garbage rather than littering the forest.

*In class:
This activity is perfect for pre-school and Kindergarten, though I am sure even older kids would enjoy it! I passed out a cup and a pipe cleaner to each child. I use the slightly thicker pipe cleaners which helps the Cheerios from slipping off during stringing; you can also bend one end of the pipe cleaner to serve the same purpose. Once the pipe cleaner is full of Cheerios, twist the two ends together to make a circle, or even bend into shapes like a heart or star-I went with just the circle as it is the easiest! Because this is such a concrete activity, you can maintain the target language for virtually the whole time of construction, demonstrating how to assemble it & narrating as you move about the room assisting students. TIP: have one pre-assembled so they know what they are shooting for!

Heading outside: I decided to split this into two lessons, constructing the bird feeders one class and going outside during the subsequent one-this works well with my schedule but certainly can be done all in one longer class period if that's what you have. Because of two lesson periods, they hang A bird feeder, not THEIR bird feeder, since we don't put our names on them. Giving them the heads up at the beginning smoothes this over immensely! Outside, off they went to hang the feeder on a branch of their choice!

You can connect this activity to a variety of larger themes and topics-winter, woods/forest, animals in winter, birds, weather, etc OR of course, a combination of these! I used a two-pronged approach: birds in winter AND doing for others (like a mini service project) which allows for connecting to SEL & community building activities. I used a variety of photos showing birds in winter (in our area) to practice vocabulary like 'It's cold', 'It's winter', 'hungry/ I'm/they're hungry', 'eat', 'muchas semillas/pocas semillas' etc as well as reviewing colors & simple verbs, which established the need for us to feed the birds during the winter months. For more activities with backyard birds, check out our Activity Pages in FRENCH and SPANISH!


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