Jill Dening wrote:
> How do you approach the subject with young children? Or even older
> children? How do you connect with them?
Children are, in many ways, just adults on a smaller scale. Use words that are
within their vocabulary and expect a very short attention span and just be
> And how do you get them to handle
> binos without annihilating them? I think I could learn, but I need some
My recent experience was with primary school children and their teacher did
most of the work. It was coming up to magpie "swooping season" and I e-mailed
the teacher some tips for coping with aggressive magpies (found on a web site),
with the suggestion she might use it as the basis for a class dicussion and
some school yard observations of the local maggies. I also lent a professional
tape recording of a magpie and suggested they play it outside and watch for
reactions. I lent them a video about the life of a family of magpies and I
suggested they might have a competition to build a nest, using just tweezers(=
She took up the idea enthusiastically. As it happened, there were no magpies
nesting near the school building last year but the children (year 6-7)
researched magpies (including magpie Larks)and their nesting habits in the
school library and with the resources I'd lent them. They were given an
assignment to build a nest. They all agreed it was much too hard using just the
tweezers and were allowed to use all resources available to them. The one
criterion was that it had to hold together, without glue. They presented the
results of their endeavors at school assembly at the end of the week and also
put their nests and posters on display in the local library.
I've tried taking a class of children out birding but its not so successful.
One or two are interested and can be trusted with a sturdy pair of binos but
I've found it doesn't work well with a group. One idea that might be adaptable
to schools, for those with the necessary skills, is to conduct a banding
session in the school grounds. It would give the kids the thrill of close-up
views and maybe a chance to touch a wild bird.
On a one-to one basis, bird-watching through a window is good if there's a
suitable tree or water source nearby. The kids don't have to keep quite so
still and quiet as they would outside. Again, giving them some questions to
answer can help focus their observations.
Any activity with children seems to work best if its goal-orientated and fun.
Making ice-cream carton "masks" to ward off swooping maggies can lead to
discussing their motives and other needs and habits. (But beware that some
child will always insist on recounting how "My dad shoots birds because they
eat our fruit" or whatever!)
I'm no expert on childhood education - its trial and error - exhausting but
satisfying. Good luck!
Atriplex Services (Pronounced A-tree-plex)
Environmental Consultants, Landscaping Contractors,
Native Australian Plant Nursery, Educators.
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