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Have you ever heard of a bird counting event like the Christmas Bird Count or the Great Bird Count (Contando Aves en Comunidad)? While nearly any day is the perfect excuse to leverage a good book for a nature-related lesson, this book is especially powerful as part of a special event.
So, what’s the book about? In short, counting, tallying, and birds. A little girl named Ava travels with her bird count team to take part in the Audobon’s Christmas Bird Count. On the journey, Ava and the reader identify birds common to her area, the rules for official bird counting, and how to categorize and tally what she finds. The best part of this book is that Ava’s tallies actually appear and change on each page.
To whom is this book targeted? The target audience is roughly K-4th, but it will also work well for beginning-intermediate ESL/ESOL. Note, however, that this is a read-aloud for K-2nd, as some of the vocabulary and the text’s density will be difficult for K-2nd to handle independently.
Not all states use Common Core, so we’ve outlined some generic learning standards below. You can find a very rich set of lesson plans that address subject-specific curriculum standards, including math, science, art, and more, in the Lesson Plans section below.
This book either addresses or can be integrated into an unusual number of learning standards. Below you’ll find a generic list of directly-addressed standards, but you can find a full list of standards, including Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, in the free Teachers’ Guide on the author’s website.
- Count cardinally
- Classify and sort objects into categories
- Collect, organize, and represent data
- Tally / Count with tallies
English Language Arts
- Make connections between illustrations and storylines
- Re-tell events in / plot of a book
- Connect fictional events with reality
- Engage in group activities to enrich learning experiences
Tallies and Tallying
One of the main reasons to integrate this beautifully illustrated book about tallying is that it’s one of the few to utilize, highlight, and address Western-style tallying. However, tallying is increasingly becoming a learning goal, so it’s something you won’t want to skip. Check the free worksheets below for freebies that will help with this skill.
Natural, Outdoor, and Montessori Approaches
Another great reason to check out this book about tallying is that the illustrations are realistic. Of course, kids love funny clipart, but when integrating something that connects to real life and scientific discovery, realistic, beautiful illustrations are key. This book also fits so well into outdoor and Montessori learning approaches that it’s worth adding to your collection if you work in one of those environments.
Part of the natural approach to learning is not re-inventing the wheel. We printed some of the below free resources when we were ready to hang bird houses for the spring season (pictured). Check out all the free resources and links below to build a nature-loving learning experience.
Free Book-Integrated Lesson Plans and Worksheets
One of the easiest ways to integrate learning into this book is to simply have your readers tally as they read or with outdoor materials. All they need is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper or some sticks. There are many other fantastic ways to integrate this book into a full lesson or week of lessons, too. Read on for free (free account may be required for some of the freebies) lesson plan and printable worksheet options.
Teacher’s Guide and Lesson Plans
It’s unusual to find a picture book with so many fantastic, integrated lesson plans and a comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, but this one delivers. Check out the author’s website for a full list of free, downloadable lesson plans for art, music, science, math, etc. and a comprehensive teachers’ guide.
Printable Worksheets & More
Littles in the Woods has a fantastic Great Backyard Bird Count pack that matches Bird Count well. The pack is completely free to download if you have a free Teachers Pay Teachers account. One of our favorite parts of this pack is that it includes adorable bird clipart for the most common birds in North America. And, even better, it has pages that work for learners of all ages, including traceable numbers pages for littles and open-ended ones for the young-at heart.
If you’re trying to build a forest unit and want some additional “fun” pages, The Little Cup Teaching has a free tiered I Spy forest pack (free TPT account required) that can be used with learners as young as three. It includes animals other than birds and provides a great bridge opportunity to other learning or to practicing additional numbers writing.
If you want go-to pages that cover tallying and graphing but can be used for anything, try one of our free tallying and graphing pages in the Subscriber’s Library. They’re available in English and Spanish and can be adapted to nearly any curriculum, subject, or lesson. In fact, they’re so flexible that they come in levels–simple for young learners, intermediate for more advanced students, and open-ended for everyone else. Spanish versions include pages that use both the term “rayitas” and “marcas de conteo,” so you can pick the version that works best for your learners.
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