MnSTEP Teaching Activity Collection > MnSTEP Activities > Name That (Bird) Tune

Name That (Bird) Tune

Charlie Schweigert
Southwest Elementary School
Grand Rapids, MN
Author Profile


Students will identify 3-4 birds by their song. The birds are native to Northern Minnesota and will be visited in their natural surroundings.

Learning Goals

-Birds can be identified by their song.
-It is important to develop observation skills like sitting still without moving or talking when trying to observe animals in nature.
-Technology can be useful when studying animals in nature.

Context for Use

Spend a little time discussing observation techniques before heading outdoors. There may be more birds around in the spring and it works best if your forest area is within walking distance. No one has any money for buses anymore. You will need an ipod with the bird songs on it and some type of speakers. A solar powered radio (Freeplay) works well if your ipod has a radio frequency adapter. Kids think it is cool when their teacher has an ipod even when it is for science.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Field Activity:Field laboratories
Special Interest: Field-Based Teaching and Learning
Grade Level: Intermediate (3-5)
Theme: Teach the Earth:Enhancing your Teaching:Teaching in the Field

Description and Teaching Materials

1. Students will complete a KWH chart in their journals. What bird songs do you know? What bird songs do you want to know? How will you learn them?
2. Discuss with students observation techniques necessary for listening to birds in the wild.
3. Use a teacher guided inquiry strategy to introduce the students to the ipod and the solar powered radio.
4. Listen to 3-4 bird songs and identify.
5. Discuss what they might want to record in their science journals after the birds have been sighted.
6. Dress for outdoors.

1. Students find a comfortable spot to sit.
2. Teacher plays bird song recording.
3. Birds arrive in large flocks.
4. Students record observations in their journals.
5. Return to classroom.

Teaching Notes and Tips

-Sources for bird recordings
Peterson's Bird Songs East/Central CD by Roger Tory Peterson

-Learn the Ojibwe names for the birds
Blue jay Diindiisi
Robin Opichi
Chickadee Gijigijiganeshii
Crow Aandeg
Falcon Gekek

-Read The Boy Who Drew Birds, A Story of John James Audubon as part of an art lesson on how to draw birds.

-Discuss using solar power vs being on the grid.

-What might be some of the negative effects of technology on animals and the natural world?


Students will record on their KWHL charts what bird songs they have learned.


MN 4th Grade Standards
Nature of Science
a. Scientific world view: Science is used to investigate interactions between people and the natural world.
- Explore the uses and effects of science in out interaction with the natural world.
- Discuss the responsible use of science.
- Recognize the impact of scientific and technological activities on the natural world.

References and Resources