Month: April 2020

Birds: Hymn

Each month we learn a new hymn. We listen to it for the whole month, talk about the verses regularly and hopefully have it memorized by the end of the month! We often play it in the car as we drive places during the day, or over our Google Home when we are around the house. I typically follow AmblesideOnline for our music selections. But with this month being a unit study for us, I went in search of a hymn that was fitting.

There are a plethora of hymns related to birds. Some very well known, and others more obscure. I wanted on the kids would recognize throughout their life, so I went with common.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

The Story

Written by Civilla Martin in 1904 when visiting an ill bed-ridden friend. That friend held onto Matthew 10:29-31 during her illness. It inspired Civilla, a poet and wife of an evangelist, and by the end of the day the poem was completed. It was then sent off to the well known composer of the day, Charles Gabriel. And the rest is history!

Lyrics

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.


❤ Tara

Birds: Folk

Unit Study: Birds - folk song of the month | www.oliverandtara.com
Unit Study: Birds - Folk song of the month! | www.oliverandtara.com

Another “riches” we include in our monthly rhythm are folk songs. We practice and learn a new one for a month and then add the song to our Spotify playlist. This gives us an ever growing list of songs we can sing together in the car, on hikes, etc.

Why a folk song?

Oh my word, there are so very many reasons to include folk songs in with your other riches. For one, it is a huge part of our cultural heritage here in America. The lyrics often address parts of our history and the music style itself is fading away. Children love singing folk songs. They often have an upbeat yet simple tune to follow along with while you sing. And some of the lyrics are just plane nonsensical and amusing!

Simply put, they infuse beauty, fun, history and culture into your learning space.

Folk songs with birds

As soon as I picked this month’s theme, I knew I would have an abundance of folk songs to pick from about birds. However, I have learned in the past that you MUST pre-screen your folk songs. Or risk traumatizing your more sensitive kids. (oops!)

This month I picked a simple folk song with a beautiful tune and a great way to talk about all the birds they are learning this month. You can add in any bird you like to this simple song and sing as you work, play and go about your daily rhythm. I often hear the kids singing folk songs as they do other tasks and it always makes me so happy.

Little Bird, Little Bird (Elizabeth Mitchell)

Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Little bird, little bird
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy

Who knows a bird?
Me! Chickadee!
What's a chickadee say?
ChchchchchchChickadee, chickadee

Fly through my window
Chickadee, chickadee
Fly through my window
Chickadee, chickadee
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
And find molasses candy

Who knows another bird?
Me! Jaybird!
What does a jaybird say?
Jayjayjayjayjayjay

Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Jaybird, jaybird
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy

Who knows one more bird?
I do! A whip-poor-will
What does a whip-poor-will say?

Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will
Fly through my window
Find molasses candy

Through my window
My sugar lump
Fly through my window
My sugar lump
Find molasses candy


❤ Tara

Birds: Classical Music

We typically study one composer at time when we explore classical music throughout the school year. We really learn all about the composer and get a feel for their music so we can identify it when we hear it in another context.

This month we are doing it a bit different. We are instead exploring a variety of composers who have created works around birds! Some actually have bird sounds, others use instruments to imitate birds. Overall it gives us great music to listen to and talk about

When to Listen

We don’t have an assigned day or time to listen to music. We typically play our classical music in the background while we do other things. Some suggestions are during:

  • Meals
  • Art/Handicrafts
  • Bible Reading
  • Read Alouds
  • Quiet Time
  • Game time

What We’re Listening To…

  • The Lark Ascending, Ralph Vaughan Williams
    Inspired by the 1881 poem of the same name, this piece was first performed in 1920. A 16 minute song, it was created for a solo violin with an orchestra.
  • The Birds, Ottorino Respighi
    This suite is for a small orchestra and while written in 1926, it is based on music from the 17th and 18th century. The goal of the music was to recreate bird songs and movement. It includes The Dove, The Hen, The Nightingale and The Cuckoo.
  • Cantus Articus, Einojuhani Rautavaara
    This Finnish composer created this composition in 1972. It includes taped recordings of birds from the Finland and the Arctic Circle with the music including shore larks and swans.
  • Bird Concerto with Pianosong, Jonathan Harvey
    Written in 2001 for a solo piano with 7 person ensemble. Harvey listened to 40 birds, including indigo buntings and golden crown sparrows, then slowed down their songs and began turning them into musical notes.
  • Le Merle noir, Olivier Messiaen
    Written in 1952, it is a chamber work from French flute and piano. He had a lifelong interest in birdsong and this piece was his earliest work incorporating stylized birdsong.
  • Le Réveil des oiseaux, Olivier Messiaen
    This whole piece was build from birdsong and is known as a dawn chorus.
  • Epode, Olivier Messiaen
    This work is scored for 18 violins, all playing a different birdsong.

Listen With Us


❤ Tara

Birds: Extras

I’ve tried to keep everything for this unit accessible online or from local stores, as we are all still pretty locked down. But there have been a few items I have purchased to get ready for this unit and I wanted to share in case people wanted them as well! I move this post ahead of many others to give people the most time to purchase items.

Bird Cards

As I began researching for this Unit Study, I kept coming across these cards. I just couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I didn’t! For less than $12 it comes with a great amount of information on common birds.

The cards are all two-sided. The front has beautiful drawings of the birds and details about their physical features.

The card size is great, about the size of playing cards. And the back is full of information about the birds.

Plan for Use

I am setting up some card holders on the window sills that we already own. I love these from Super Duper. We are putting bird feeders out back with the hope that we can spot some feathered friends. As we spot them we can pull out the corresponding card and display them. We also plan to read books on birds in this unit study and watch some documentaries. So we will definitely be finding birds from those resources in our deck as well!

Osprey Binoculars

We found these at a local RV show that came through Denver right before the shut down. They are the perfect size for little hands and come with a lifetime replacement guarantee. Running a nature co-op, I have a feeling I may have to cash in on that. They were a bit more expensive than the kid version, but they work fantastic! Reach out to Kyle for a pair of your own.

Plans for Use

I am setting these up right next to the card holders on our window sill. Here’s hoping our little viewing area will bring us many feathered friends! Also, they will be readily available then for our walks around the neighborhood and [hopefully] on hikes in our near future!

Owl Pellets

Updated May 1: In Week Three we will be discussing owls, so we are also planning to dissect owl pellets. What is an owl pellet? Well, after an owl eats it’s meal, it’s stomach cannot digest bones, insect shells, fur, etc. So the owl spits it back up – think of it as an owl fur ball.

Plans for Use

If you dissect an owl pellet, you can find entire small animal skeletons! So we plan to explore and see if we can identify what we find. There is a class on Outschool we will be taking when we get to Week Three. In the meantime I have ordered these off of Amazon – they have great reviews and have heat sterilized the pellets too! Because, germs ya’ll.

Colorful Goose Feathers

We happened to have these on hand, and will be using them a lot in this unit. These feathers are firmer than the usual ones that come in craft kits, which remind me of feathered boas and somehow infiltrate every corner of my home when “let free”.

Plans for Use

Feathers like these will be helpful in many of the STEAM activities we have planned including measuring, math and even spelling. Not a must, you can cut feathers from paper if you would like! But a fun “extra” if you want to add them to your next Amazon order.

The Big Book of Birds

I really had no plans of purchasing any books for this Unit Study. I wanted to use what I had on hand and on-line resources. But I simply couldn’t resist this book after seeing previews in a few different resources. It doesn’t arrive until Thursday, but I’m excited to begin exploring it. The illustrations I’ve seen are beautiful and it has a wide variety of content.

Expect a Facebook Live when it arrives, over on our Facebook Page!
(I’ll link it back here afterwards)

Happy Shopping!


❤ Tara

Unit Study: Birds!

Unit Study: Birds - overview | www.oliverandtara.com

Ask and ye shall received! I offered to share information on our unit study in May and people loved the idea. So here we go! I’ll be putting it all here so I can send people to one spot for all the information.

I have planned out 4 weeks of learning, pulling from a variety of resources. I am using some left over materials from when we used Mother Goose Time in the co-op, Pinterest, Charlotte Mason inspired materials and more.

We will continue to do our “core” learning topics – handwriting, math, bible, reading. These take about 1 hour to complete. Then we will fill our time with learning and activities all related to our topic.

Why Birds?

Spring is here in Colorado, and birds are everywhere. We have bald eagles, blue jays, magpies, hummingbirds, robins and cormorants – and that is just a small sampling. Birding is very popular here and we often see folks with binoculars out at our nature school spot. This spring we find ourselves spending more time at home with COVID in our world. I wanted to set up a way to explore the world in our own backyard, and birds felt right.

I have been spending much of our quarantine cleaning out and setting up what will now be our “learning space”. A former co-op room, I have lined walls with bookshelves, found a screen for casting music and information, a round work table to spread out projects and a comfy chair to curl up and read in. I’ll post pictures when it is complete! But, while digging through and cleaning out, I found pieces from an old curriculum all about birds. So this really kicked my bum into gear on pulling together information.

My creativity is being stretched as we still don’t know when craft stores and libraries will open. And we never know how long Amazon packages will take. It’s been fun to work around these restraints and still find great quality ideas and resources thanks to the internet.

The Structure

All of the materials I present will be broken up into 3 key areas: monthly, weekly and additional.

Monthly

This week and into early next week I will be posting the key parts of the unit study we do all month long. This will include things like setting up our learning shelf, prepping our yard, our “riches” and more. These are things we return to and explore over and over for deep learning and appreciation.

Weekly

Each week I will post about the plan for the week. This will include crafts, games, books we will read and videos we plan to watch. These can be melded into your week however you see fit! As the week progresses I will share stories and pictures here and on my instagram account – so follow along and share your own photos too!

Additional

I’ve found so many resources about birds, I have whole spreadsheets dedicated to my findings. So these posts will be about other fun resources in case you are interested in doing more or swapping in something else. These may be purchases I’ve made on Amazon, downloads I have bought, outside activities if you are free to explores the great outdoors and more.

I truly help this resource helps you, it’s been a small labor of love on my part during a stressful time in our world. So follow along, and let’s learn about birds!


❤ Tara