Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bird Beaks and What They Eat (Fine Motor Skills)

You can tell a lot about a bird by looking at its beak - like what it eats! Our oldest son has a love of all things avian. So when he came home from a trip to Grandma's house with a hand-drawn cheat sheet of various shaped bird beaks, I seized the opportunity to expand on the learning potential.

The first thing I did was recreate my Mom's pencil drawings. I turned the cheat sheet into a wheel showing five of the most common types of birds and the foods they eat.

I glued the two pages to an empty cereal box, cut out, layered one on top of the other and pushed a brad through the center.

Download a free 2-page PDF here
to make your own birds and what they eat wheel.

When my oldest son turns the wheel, he can see one type of beak/bird and their diet. Now when he looks through books at bird pictures, he can try to draw his own conclusions about whether they eat seeds, insects, nectar, or other animals.

Next, I gave both of my sons three types of pretend beaks (a chip clip, clothespin, and metal ID badge clip). I spread pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, short pink chenille stems (aka pretend worms), and small plastic frogs and lizards in a small tray.

I told them to use the different "beaks" to pick up the food, as if they were birds. This was a great fine motor exercise that both our boys (ages 8 and 4) loved! Our youngest even got in some counting practice since he counted each "worm" as he grasped it with a pretend beak.

This great idea came from

We read some great books to go along with this activity. My oldest and I read an excerpt (pages 26-28) from Edward R. Ricciuti's book Our Living World: Birds and for my youngest, we enjoyed Anne Rockwell's Our Yard is Full of Birds. The latter focuses exclusively on songbirds, but since those are the birds my four-year-old sees most, I thought it was a great introduction for him.


  1. This is on our list to do this week! Great fine motors in a sneaky way--perfect for my kindergartener who needs help with pencil grip and fine motor strength! Thank you!

  2. I LOVE learning about birds and was so excited to see this! I love that it works for both older and younger kids. We have a bird refuge near us and an aviary that we visit several times a year and I can't wait to incorporate this the next time we go. Thank you for sharing it!!