French activities and resources for learning about birds (activités pédagogiques oiseaux)

Over the summer, we spent quite a bit of time talking and learning about birds while speaking French. My primary goal as always was language-learning, but the kids also learned a lot about birds, which was a bonus. Granted, they came in to this study with a lot of knowledge already. We live in the country and are able to observe birds and other animals all the time.  A few years ago, a robin made a nest right outside my son’s bedroom window, so we got to spend a few weeks observing the chicks up close:

This was a real highlight for all of us! I was worried that we were bothering the mother bird too much by watching, but she used the nest a second time that summer so obviously we didn’t drive her away.

This past June, we also got to watch some killdeer hatch:

For this year, we used books (fiction and non-fiction), activities, workbooks, and online activities for our study. The typical routine would be to read a book or two and then follow it up with a few worksheets or another activity, for a total of about 15-30 minutes each time. We used the web application (see below) as part of our screen-based learning time which is in addition to our “lesson time”.

Favourite books

We read a ton of books from the library, but really there were only a few notable ones:

Les oiseaux by Rebecca Sjonger and Bobbie Kalman – a great overview text with illustrations that was about the right length for us

Laisser passez les canards by Robert McCloskey (translation of classic English title Make Way for Ducklings)

Oiseau et Croco by Alexis Deacon – a fun story about a bird and crocodile who are friends

 

 

As-tu vu les oiseaux by Catherine Côté – an excellent book with great pictures and good explanations

 

Borka by John Burningham – a fun story about a goose with no feathers

 

Les Oiseaux de chez nous by Susan Hughes – a book with some really interesting facts about different bird species in Canada. I liked how it focused on things that were unique to that particular bird. A bit text- heavy, so only get this one if your kids have an extensive vocabulary to start with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workbooks

I pieced together a workbook for each of my children to progress through using a few different sources. Being fussy & particular me, I didn’t just work through each book individually. Rather, I grouped the sheets together by topic and then put them in a duotang in the order that I wanted to cover them. Obviously, working through one book at a time would have been easier.

Nos amis ailés – 85 page pdf download – $12.34 USD : http://www.dedicatedteacher.com/nos-amis-ailes-4aome-au-6aome-annaoe-ebook/s-s-learning/SSLB212/pd/?sid=a614424cad5b14c882bb0b07cc696936&fs=1

Les oiseaux d’hiver – pdf download – $12.34 USD (thankfully a friend passed this one on to me): http://www.dedicatedteacher.com/les-oiseaux-dhiver-2aome-au-3aome-annaoe-ebook/s-s-learning/SSLB211/pd/?sid=a614424cad5b14c882bb0b07cc696936&fs=1

Quick note about the 2 items noted above – they are obviously old – so old that they look like they’ve been typed on my mother’s old ribbon typewriter whose keys stuck together all the time – but don’t let that discourage you. The content is good.

Mille Merveilles – various worksheets – $32CDN for a year’s subscription to the full site – a large selection to choose from (not just bird worksheets). The sheets on this site are top-quality, up-to-date, fun, and informative http://www.millemerveilles.com/

Journal du jeune ornithologue et cahier d’activités – pdf download from Nature.ca FREE. We worked through this book over 3 days at the end of our unit as a review. It’s very well done. We all thought it was super cool that we live in an Important Bird Area (see p. 11) http://naturecanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CABirderJournal-033114-French-ForWeb_2014.pdf

Envolée’s web application – Oiseaux: Repérage 2e cycle – $4.99CDN for one-year access

Get it here: https://www.envolee.com/fr/produit/3816/oiseaux-reperage-2e-cycle-app-web

This is great! $5 buys you desktop access for a year to 40 short texts with 4 comprehension questions each for your whole class of students plus teacher’s access for yourself. Here’s an example of the first part of one of the sections:

bluejay

The system keeps track of what questions they attempted and whether or not their answers were correct. When I log in, I can see at a glance what each child has completed and how well they did. I was able to pinpoint exactly which sections they didn’t understand and have them go back and re-do them (we have unlimited access for the subscription period).

Here’s what my teacher board looks like for one of my students:

dashboard

Songs

Singing songs has always been a favourite around our house.  The bird-themed ones that I came up with were these:

Alouette

I have activities and worksheets to go with this song in French Sing & Learn Vol. 1 that we did a few years ago.

Dans la forêt lointaine

I have activities and worksheets to go with this song in French Sing & Learn Vol. 1 that we did a few years ago.

Un moineau sur ton dos

This song was new to us. The video above looked like it would be boring, but it was really kind of funny.

Other activities

We made birds out of play doh and talked about what they look like and their different parts.

We did a beak experiment where we used tweezers, toothpicks, a medicine dropper and other various items to represent different beaks and tried to pick up different bird food items using those beaks. It was a lot easier to drink “nectar” (water) with the medicine dropper than with the tweezers!

We traced some migration routes on a world map with our fingers.

We told some bird stories where one person would start off the story and we’d each add a sentence when it was our turn. The kids thought this was hilarious – I’m going to have to do this more often!

Nature Canada has a game to simulate bird banding, which I must confess we never actually got around to doing, but it sounds really great: http://naturecanada.ca/initiatives-fr/journee-des-oiseaux/organisez-votre-propre-evenement-de-la-journee-des-oiseaux/?lang=fr

We also completed several (but not all) of the activity suggestions in the workbooks noted in the workbooks section above.

Overall, I was able to get about 40 lessons out of this material and the study went really well, but I must say that by the end, I was ready to move on.  🙂

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5 thoughts on “French activities and resources for learning about birds (activités pédagogiques oiseaux)

  1. Thanks for sharing! I will have to remember to do a bird unit in the spring. I think I am finally ready to be more intentional with French this year – I’m going to start with breakfast foods as you suggested previously, and have them ask for their breakfast in French 🙂 Hopefully an empty tummy with prove to be good motivation LOL!

  2. Oh, and I want to also say how jealous I am of your opportunities to witness those nests and chicks! How did you observe the killdear without upsetting the mama?

    • When I took these pics, the mama was off somewhere – presumably finding food. She was not thrilled every time we walked by the nest (which was often). We saw the broken wing trick many times.

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