Have you ever wished you were a bird, just to know what it would be like to truly fly? Do you like to “migrate” from the cold New York winters to warmer southern weather?
If you answered yes, then you would have enjoyed spending the day with me and over 270 sixth graders who learned about bird migration at the Cortland Conservation Field Days at the end of September.
The event pulled in 15 different conservation educators to prepare 20-minute programs for student groups at the 4H Camp Owahta in McGraw, N.Y.
Students from 10 Cortland County schools spent the day cycling through stations listening to presentations about topics like wetlands, food, wildlife, forests, orienteering, composting, and much more.
At our New York Field Office station, students learned about the “helps and hazards” associated with migration in an activity called the Great Migration Challenge.
Students thought and acted like birds by following a series of cards that took them on a migration route of their own.
Here’s how it worked:
- Each student selects a partner and a bird as which they’ll act.
- Students start their migration journey by rolling a die to direct them to one of the 24 stations set up around the room, each with a different activity card. Each card explains a scenario, and then directs students to the next stop on their migration journey. One card read, “You get tangled in fishing line and can’t eat. You are weak from hunger. A wildlife rehabilitator cuts the line and feeds you. Hop on 1 leg in a circle, count to 40, then move ahead 4 stations.”
- Students continue selecting cards and moving to the appropriate station until they reach a station that either kills the bird (disease, guns, cats, etc.) or sends it to the finish after reaching the migration destination.
- After, students rejoin the rest of the class and discuss the factors that helped them on their migration journeys, as well as others that were hazardous to their journeys.
The kids enjoyed the program because they were able to jump, run, and act silly, while the teachers enjoyed the program because it provided students with a hands-on way to learn (and get their energy out!).
Interested in the activity? Find the instructions and all necessary materials in the attached PDFs from the Flying Wild Educator’s Guide. Visit the Flying Wild website to find additional resources.
Great Migration Challenge materials:
- Activity cards (PDF/105K)
- Activity instructions (PDF/10019K)
- Instructions poster (PDF/67K)
- Results chart (PDF/56K)
- Item list (PDF/44K)