Materials: A small 5.5 x 8.5 inch sketchbook, colored pencils, pencil, eraser, India ink pen, binoculars, local bird field guide
Go on weekly walks with your children all the while taking particular notice of the birds in the area. To make it interesting you might want to break it up into habitats. For example, for a month go to forests or state parks and observe the birds you see in those habitats. Another month visit ponds (if possible) and study the water birds. Other ideas include marshlands, wetlands, or the seashore. If you live in the city and rarely are able to get out, you may observe the many birds that visit the city as well as city parks.
When your child sees a bird, ask them to note as many traits as they can before the bird flies away. This will teach them to notice details which, in turn, will help them to identify the bird as well as simply marvel in their beauty. Then, using your field guide, help your children identify the bird. After identifying the bird, or while observing it, have your children open their sketchbooks and sketch a picture of the bird. Explain to them that this activity is not an art project. The intention is not to make a beautiful picture, but rather to record what they see and learn about the bird by sketching it. Then they may color their sketch or write notes about the color. They may want to take notes about the bird’s behavior or the sound of its song or call.
If your children spend a year doing this project, at the end of the year they will have a record of all the birds they have studied in their region and, even more rewarding, they will be able to refer to birds they see by name.