Getting back on to a solid homeschooling schedule after the Holidays KILLS me. Every time. We don’t even take as much time off as the public school kids, yet it is still such a challenge to get back on track! I’m still in recovery mode. Yes, our tree is still up. And the kids are even more unfocused than I am. They literally turn into bird brains.
It doesn’t make it any easier that part of our curriculum is Nature Study and should ideally be done outside. At this time of the year, however, the kids last about 10 minutes outside, despite being bundled up beyond recognition.
As part of our Nature Study curriculum, we’ve been reading The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess. This book tells a sweet story of Peter Rabbit and his friends, and at the same time teaches about birds. I remember reading this book as a child. It was fascinating to me to read the story, and to then recognize the birds in our back yard. I even remember affectionately calling the birds by the names given by the author. My favorite was Redwing the Blackbird.
This week, as we were reading about Redwing the Blackbird, I noticed the children were unusually distracted. I tried my usual techniques to gain their interest. Funny voices weren’t working, so together we scanned YouTube for Blackbird videos, listening and learning the bird’s calls. Still no results. So as I read, I had the children draw the bird, coloring in its’ striking red wing pads. But this time nothing was working. I swear, the Holidays create bird brains!
Now, knowing my kiddos, I know that when nothing is working, I need to pull out the crafts. Crafting is their love language. So to stick with the bird theme, we made bird masks. These are very simple to make, can handle a large margin of error, and result in a ton of laughs.
Here’s what you’ll need to make them:
- Tissue Paper
- Yellow Construction Paper
- String / Ribbon / String
Cut your cardstock in half, then fold the half into half again. Draw an eye hole and the shape of the mask as seen below. There’s no need to be precise. None of the cardstock will be visible in the end. With the paper still folded, cut out the mask and eye hole.
Next take the tissue paper and fold it in half and in half again as many times as you can. Then cut out little crescent shapes from the edges. When unfolded, these will be the bird’s feathers.
Starting on the outer edge, glue the feathers onto the mask. Have them overlap. I did two layers of feathers before adding the beak. If you want to get creative, you can use different colors or shades of tissue paper to add dimension.
To make the beak, I cut a piece of yellow construction paper into four. Take one of the pieces and fold the top corners down so that you create a cone shape, as shown below. Glue the corners down. Cut off the uneven edge. Next I needed to create some tabs on the upper part of the beak to glue onto the mask. To do this, I cut a 1 inch slice into both folded side creases, then the same sized clips along the top. Cut off a one inch strip off the bottom part of the beak.
Position the beak in place and glue the tabs onto the mask. You can accentuate the beak by drawing a black line along the folded sides and adding nostrils on both sides of the beak. Then add more feathers to cover up the beak’s glued tabs.
We finished our bird masks by coloring around the eyes. Then we stapled ribbon to the back and reinforced it with tape. We ended up with some very peculiar little birds who spent the rest of the day squawking, hopping around the house on one leg, and pecking at each other.
But hey. At least we managed to focus on birds for a few minutes!