How Can We Help?
To engage young learners in caring for their environment and the animals in it.
During a class discussion, we talked about how a healthy environment meets the needs of living things. We watched how local animals were preparing for winter and some students expressed their interest in feeding the birds over the winter as a way to help provide one of their basic needs. The students wanted to put some feeders in our recently installed Rain Garden that we look out onto from our classroom windows. We found out that a local business, Caledon Mountain Wildlife, has a school program that provides bird seed to local schools. We purchased a feeder pole, two bird feeders, and a suet holder to attract different varieties of birds throughout the winter. The students kept track via graphs and tallies the kinds of birds that were visiting the feeder, identifying them using a bird poster of common backyard birds. They were responsible for filling the feeders when they were low. Many math, language, and science expectations were covered through this inquiry.
As well as curriculum expectations, we also connected several SDG’s to their learning including SDG 3 – Health and Well-Being. We asked ourselves, “Are we improving the health of the birds or causing them more stress”? With our tallies the students decided that because we had such a large number of birds visiting our feeders, and therefore the birds were enjoying the food, we were in fact helping the birds and not causing them stress. We also had many students choose to take mindful breaks by the windows to watch the birds, as they got a lot of enjoyment and calm out of that activity. Other questions we touched on during this inquiry included the following. SDG 1 – No Poverty: Can all people afford to feed the birds? How does this matter? Is there anything we could do about this? SDG 2 – Zero Hunger: What factors affect bird hunger? Are they similar for humans? Does winter impact human hunger? Do the squirrels rely on bird feeders in their area? SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities: Is feeding the birds in the city or in the country different? Which is more beneficial? SDG 15 – Life on Land: How do birds interact with other species? Do they need each other? Do we need birds? Do birds communicate? How? What can we do to help the birds?
We have also been following the migration patterns of Hummingbirds and Orioles and have since returned to Caledon Mountain Wildlife where we purchased an oriole feeder, a hummingbird feeder, an open flat feeder, a bird bath, and a pollen bee nest. The students are responsible for making the sugar water, putting the grape jelly and oranges on the oriole feeders, filling the bird bath, filling the feeders with seed, and washing everything as needed.
We worked closely with Caledon Mountain Wildlife (SDG 17 – Partners for the Goals) throughout this process. When purchasing our recently acquired feeders, we noticed that there was a local vendor that used upcycled materials to make bird houses. As this is an excellent connection to the SDGs and fits well with our focus on birds, we have reached out to him and hope to have him come to our school to speak to the kids about what he does and why and perhaps make one with/for us? This is a recent development and one that we are just starting to look into.
Also, as part of working closely with local partners, we will be working with the CVC again in the fall, where the goal is for them to provide the materials for a bird house and have the students build it on school property to add to our bird area in the Rain Garden.
Reflection & Celebration
The students have really enjoyed this project and have been so engaged. They were so excited when our first hummingbird came to visit us as we were hanging the feeder! They couldn’t believe it! They are always reminding me to check the feeders and calling me over to the window whenever they see a bird. This project has given them a sense of responsibility and stewardship to their environment and one I think will stay with them long after they leave Grade 1.
Check out this video of a hummingbird visiting our feeders!