Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Build an Owl

One of my favorite workshops at the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia (EEA) Conference was a couple of hours of ideas for using birds as a context for learning in elementary school. It was taught by staffers from the Rock Eagle 4-H Center here in Georgia. Here is one idea I gleaned from this session.

How about dressing up a volunteer as an owl as you teach about adaptations?

First the big eyes for night vision - foam hemispheres hot-glued to a baseball cap. Then add the all-important (Papier mache) hooked beak for tearing out the innards of your prey, yum!

The vicious, deadly talons are velcroed aroubd each foot.

The wonderfully camophlaged feathers are a cape for the arms.

The downy chest feathers are a felt vest.

The critical guidance of the tail is simulated with a modified and suitably decorated foam boogie board.

Finally shin guards meant to suggest the leg feathers are added. Several other symbolic items were given to our owl: a hollow tube to represent lightweight bones; a frayed cord to demonstrate the quiet flight of owl with its fringed flight feathers (whip it and an unfrayed cord alternately in fast circles to demonstrate how the fraying quietens the hum of the cord); plastic eggs to represent, well, eggs; a balloon to suggest the air sacs that help make their respiratory systems more efficient.

Now if I can just convince a volunteer who is handy with needle and thread to get busy on this little project, I'll have a fun little adaptations lesson for next fall.

The volunteer pictured here was a conference participant whose name, I am sorry to say, I neglected to record.


By the Way: Don't forget to get your submissions in to Learning In The Great Outoors, the carnival of environmental education, hosted for April by Barb at The Heart of Harmony. You can use this handy submission form.

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