With spring's return, backyard birds have re-emerged. In Toddler Room 3, students are becoming avid birdwatchers. They regularly spot woodpeckers, robins, cardinals, mourning doves (or "good morning doves," as some students say), chickadees and goldfinches - some of the bird species they see gathering at the bird feeders that hang outside their classroom windows.
Room 3's current study of backyard birds follows their winter focus on birds of prey. But Toddler lead teacher Lauren Harris has noticed her young students show greater interest in the backyard birds because they see them so frequently outside the classroom.
"Because it's up close and personal, they really connect with it," Lauren said.
To reinforce their familiarity with the birds, they sing songs about them at morning circle time, use a bird guidebook organized by color to match the birds to their pictures and create backyard bird art projects. Additionally, they develop math skills by counting birds and nests, and hone fine motor skills by filling the bird feeders.
Pictures line the Room 3 window sills to help toddlers learn the different bird species, and it hasn't taken long for them to become experts. "They can even identify the male from the female woodpecker," Lauren said.
Observing these backyard birds in their natural habitat is one way Toddler teachers are helping grow toddlers' love and appreciation for nature.
"It connects them to nature and helps them develop respect for the earth and a passion to take care of the earth," Lauren said.