Getting to Know Your Local Birds!
Did you know that the average child recognizes hundreds of corporate logos but fewer than 10 local plants or animals? Getting to know your ‘neighbourwood’ is an important first step in connecting with the natural world.
While some local birds fly south for the winter, many stay around, and can be a focus for lots of winter sleuthing, especially if there’s a birdfeeder nearby. Here’s an activity that exercises the memory and observation skills, in preparation for going outdoors in winter, especially with Grade 1-2 children working on Landmark 12 (Getting to Know Local Plants and Animals). Older children and adults can play too.
Winter Birds Memory Game
This idea is inspired by a Christmas gift of a game of birds from around the world, where the goal is to find matches of males and females of the same species. This version has a simpler, more local focus, based on common winter birds in the Peterborough area.
Find pictures online of any of the following birds:
- Black-capped chickadee
- White-breasted nuthatch
- Northern Cardinal
- Blue Jay
- Hairy Woodpecker
- House Sparrow
- Red-breasted nuthatch
- Rock Pigeon
- European Starling
(if you know of others in your area, include them too)
Paste the pictures into a template of squares (2.5” to 3” are ideal), and make sure you have two copies of each picture. Use card stock or bristleboard if possible, so you can’t see through the paper when they’re placed face-down. Write the name of each bird on each square.
Turn all the squares face-down on a table or other flat surface. Every player turns over two cards, saying the names of the birds on each card, then turning the cards face-down again. The goal of the game is to remember the location of each card that was turned over, so you can turn up a matched pair when it’s your turn. If you find a matched pair, you take them off the table and keep them. Whenever you find a pair, you get an extra turn. This game can be played by various numbers of people, but 2 to 5 people are best, so you don’t have to wait too long for your turn.
To make the game more permanent, you can laminate the cards so they’ll last through many games. For older children, you could make sets of local flowers, animals, insects or trees. The memory challenge of the game is a great mental workout for all ages!