What is a Bird?

John Mettling, Pine City Elementary School, Pine City, MN
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In this activity students will compare characteristics of birds with characteristics of animals from other classifications. They will list the characteristics that are unique to birds.

Learning Goals

This activity is designed to introduce students to the unique characteristics of birds.

The animal world is diverse.
Birds have unique characteristics.

Wings, Beak, Bill, Feathers

Cooperative Group procedures

Context for Use

This activity is mini-lab experience for students in a second grade classroom.
Time: 20-25 minutes.
Materials needed:
Pictures or models of birds, and pictures or models of non-bird animals.
Skills needed prior to activity:
Cooperative group skills
Observation skills
Oral speaking skils
Basic listing skills

This is an introductory activity for a unit on birds.

Subject: Biology
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity, Classroom Activity
Grade Level: Primary (K-2)

Description and Teaching Materials

Introduction: Use questioning to assess students prior knowledge of birds and their characteristics.

Materials: notebook for the recorder, pictures or models of birds, pictures or models of non-bird animals.

Students are placed into cooperative groups. The student in charge of materials picks out a model or a picture of a bird for his/her group. Group members work together to create a list of characteristics of a bird. These may be seen or unseen. The recorder lists the groups findings.

Student in charge of materials will next pick up a picture or model of a non-bird animal. Groups are instructed to analyze their list of bird characteristics and eliminate those characteristics shared with the non-bird animal. Reporters will share with the class those characteristics that remain on their lists.

Discussion with class follows concerning the differences and similarities between the groups' findings.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Prior to taking this course I did this activity with the whole class. I called on students to tell me the characteristics and I recorded them on the board. We then discussed and eliminated those characteristics that were shared by other animals.


Assess each groups understanding of the characteristics unique to birds by evaluating the lists they created.


2.II.A.2 classification based on properties
2.IV.D.2 variation among individuals of one kind in a population

References and Resources