Ever dreamed of shooting off towards the sky with a flap of your great, majestic wings? Imagined yourself eye-level with the clouds far, far above your head? Well, birds get to live these fantasies all the time! Let’s learn about how they do it!
Activity 1: Twinkle Trails Episode 16 — How Birds Fly
Let’s kick off the lesson with what you already know about birds and flight.
- How do you think birds fly?
(Expected Answer: By flapping their wings.)
- Are there animals other than birds that can fly?
(Expected Answer: Animals with wings can fly. This includes some examples such as flying insects — dragonflies, bees, butterflies — and bats.)
- If you could fly, where would you like to go?
(Up to touch the clouds, up into a tree, to outer space…this question is to encourage the children to think creatively about how they would use the power of flight.)
What do these animals have in common? And how are they different?
All these animals have wings, and they can fly. But only the third animal is a bird because it has feathers — and the bird is the only type of animal that has feathers!
The first animal is an insect; it is a butterfly. You can identify insects by counting the number of legs they have. All insects have six legs and are hard to the touch. Their skeleton is on the outside of their body (exoskeleton), unlike you and me!
The second animal is a mammal; it is a bat — it is the only mammal that can fly! Mammals are typically covered in fur or hair. Mammals give birth to their young, unlike birds and insects (which lay eggs). Humans are mammals too!
Twinkle Trails: How Birds Fly
In this episode, Miss Twinkle and class are high up off the ground. Soar across the skies with them and their feathered friends to learn what makes birds so special!
Birds have flight feathers and muscles in their wings which are light and strong. These help to lift the bird’s weight off the ground. Birds also have contour feathers that give them a smooth shape. Their shape allows them to fly faster using less strength. The tail helps to control the direction in which the bird flies. Birds can change direction in mid-air by twisting their tails.
Notice that these feathers do not look soft. These are flight feathers, found mostly on the wings and tail of the bird. Flight feathers are long, hard, and strong, which give the wings more strength for flight.
Why can’t people fly?
Compare the following pictures of the girl and the bird. What differences can you see?
The wings of a flying bird are longer and wider than the length of its body. Our arms are too thin and short to be able to lift us off the ground. Birds are also very, very light, and they have strong muscles in their wings. The average 4-year-old child is 50 times the weight of the weight of a common pigeon! Imagine how much longer your wings would need to be for you to fly! And how much more strength you would need to fly like that!
(The average 4-year-old child would need wings 1.5 times as long as his body length.)
Activity Worksheet: Let’s see if you can identify what helps the bird to fly!
Activity 2: See It In Action
Activity: Create your own paper bird and control its powerful, flapping wings!
Your paper bird is lightweight and has wings. But if you throw it, will it fly or glide very far? Why not? What is your paper bird missing?
To take off, real birds move their wings in a continuous flapping motion. The paper bird’s wings do not flap on their own if you throw it. To even glide, the special shape of a real bird’s flight feathers are needed to make sure that the bird doesn’t fall out of the sky. Real birds have much larger and longer wings and tails too. If you make a paper bird with a bigger wings, it will certainly glide for a longer distance!
Activity 3: Not All Birds Fly
Did you know that some birds cannot fly? Can you name any of these flightless birds?
Birds like emus, ostriches, and penguins are too heavy to fly, have wings that are too short to lift them, or use their wings for other purposes. For example, the penguin’s wings are modified into flippers that it uses to swim. For ostriches and emus, their wings are too small to be strong enough to lift their heavy bodies off the ground.
Can chickens and peacocks fly? Yes, they can! Chickens and peacocks can fly, although they are not very good flyers. They cannot fly very high or long distances like pigeons and geese. These ground-living birds only fly to get up into short trees to get away from predators.
Activity 4: Craft with Birds
DIY Birdhouse: We’ve had plenty of time in this lesson to learn about birds and how they fly — from afar. Why don’t we create a welcoming birdhouse so we can watch our feathered friends up close?
Follow Craft Create Cook’s simple instructions to create this DIY Birdhouse with your class or with your kids at home!
If you're looking for a sturdier, more permanent birdhouse fixture for your home, you can also check out this guide by Birding Hub. This article goes into the specific needs of different species of birds and even includes video tutorials on how you can build your own!
Put up your birdhouse outside your class, or on your balcony and wait for birds to come by. Be careful not to startle the visiting birds with sudden movements or loud noises. Quietly watch them from a safe distance without disturbing them. Have fun!
Pop-up Card: An easy craft activity to round off the lesson on birds, and something for you to take home! Buzzle teaches us how to create a pop-up card with a bird’s beak. Write down, next to your bird, what you have learnt from this lesson today.
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