Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Arctic and Antarctic Birds

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Arct i c a n d Ant arc ti c Bi rds

Hi ghlights From Issue 11 (February 2009) GIANTPETRELINFLIGHT. Photo courtesy of Henry Malmgren, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

Table of Contents Arctic & Antarctic Birds, Issue 11 (Feb. 2009) Science Content Knowledge

How Do Birds Stay Warm?

By Jennifer Fee


Literacy Content Knowledge

Questioning to Understand Content Area Text

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Feature Story

The Dance of Life

By Stephen Whitt


Teaching and Assessment Strategies

Kids Becoming Scientists through Schoolyard Inquiry

By Jennifer Fee



Common Misconceptions About Birds

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Across the Curriculum: Lessons and Activities

Project FeederWatch: Integrating Real-Time Science and Math

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Science & Literacy: Lessons and Activities

Hands-on Science and Literacy Lessons About Birds

By Jessica Fries-Gaither


Off the Bookshelf


Birds: Virtual Bookshelf

By Kate Hastings


Science Content Knowledge How Do Birds Stay Warm? By Jennifer Fee Though penguins are the most well known, many species of birds call the Arctic and Antarctic home for at least part of the year. Skuas, petrels, Adelie penguins, and many other types of seabirds breed and raise their young in the polar regions during the summer months. Yet other species, such as the emperor penguin, the snowy owl, and the willow ptarmigan, remain in the polar regions throughout the year. If you live in an area with cold, snowy winters, you know that January means piling on the coats, scarves, and gloves, and perhaps drinking a hot beverage. But how do birds that spend their winters in cold places stay warm? Packed into those birds are physical and behavioral adaptations to keep them provisioned throughout the year! First, birds' feathers provide a lot of insulation. You might have noticed birds "fluffing up." They fluff their feathers to trap air between their feathers and bodies. The result is a natural layer of insulation, like a down sleeping bag. Also, when they

sleep or rest, the birds tuck their bills under their wing feathers in order to breathe in this warmer air. You may also notice many birds coming to your feeders when it is cold and snowy. Like mammals, birds are warmblooded and have a high metabolic rate. In the winter especially, they must eat to maintain their heart rate and be able to shiver to maintain their body temperature. As in humans, the shivering generates warmth.

From Top to Bottom: Giant Petrel. Photo courtesy of Jon Brack, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation. Messy Feeder, Redpolls Feeding. Photo courtesy of Yellow Snow Photography, Flickr. Willow Ptarmigan. Photo courtesy of american male, Flickr. Snow Owl. Photo courtesy of Floyd Davidson, Wikimedia Commons.

While a few birds, such as the willow ptarmigan, have feathers on their feet to help keep warm, many birds have naked feet. A countercurrent blood exchange in the feet helps keep the heat loss to a minimum while preventing frostbite (see the Complex Duck Feet section). A bird might also tuck one foot up under its feathers, balancing on only one leg! Birds also might change behaviors in the cold. Besides eating more, some huddle together for warmth. Birds such as snow grouse may hide in a snow burrow for shelter and warmth. Finally, while many people think migration is a way for birds to "escape the cold," often the migration takes place to secure adequate food resources rather 3

Science Content Knowledge than to just stay warm. See the Migration: Should I Stay or Should I Go? section for more information. COMPLEX DUCK FEET If you've ever seen a duck swimming along on a partially frozen pond or a gull standing on ice, you may have wondered how its feet don't freeze! Those feet are not thick enough to have an insulating layer of fat, nor are they covered in feathers. The blood flows close to their skin, cooling rapidly in the freezing water. The problem for these birds is balancing the need to conserve body heat with the need to supply their legs and feet with enough oxygen, nutrients, and warmth. Consider humans: for us, frostbite is caused by severely reduced blood flow to our extremities in cold weather. Over extended periods, the tissues in our fingers and toes do not get warmth or nutrients from the blood and can die. One secret to avoiding this in ducks and gulls is their blood flow system, called "countercurrent exchange." Arterial blood leaves the bird's core at a warm body temperature, while venous (returning) blood in the bird's foot is quite cool. Some birds have circulatory patterns to reduce the heat lost through their feet when standing on ice 4

or swimming in cold water. As cold blood runs up the leg from the foot and passes by the arteries, it picks up most of the heat from the arteries via conductance. As it travels, the blood flowing down is cooled, and the blood flowing up is warmed. Thus, by the time arterial blood reaches the foot, it is cool and does not lose too much heat in the cold water, and venous blood reaching the core has already been warmed, helping maintain core heat. Certain birds, such as gulls and waterfowl, have a specialized countercurrent heat exchanger located in their upper leg (see image). In these birds, blood flow is carefully regulated to maintain the delicate balance of providing blood but maintaining core body temperature. While the core temperature of a duck or gull standing on ice may be

104 degrees F, its feet may be only slightly above freezing. MIGRATION: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO? When ornithologists speak of migration, they are usually referring to seasonal migration, or the large-scale, annual movement of all or part of a population between its breeding (summer) and nonbreeding (wintering) grounds. It's a cycle that birds on every continent repeat each year, in response to the change in day length. Different bird species have different migration habits. The habits include everything from the journey of arctic terns (who travel halfway around the earth from Antarctica to their breeding grounds in far-northern Canada) to movements of blue grouse in the Northern Rockies (up mountainsides in the winter and back down to the valleys in the spring).

Small flock of Sanderlings taking off. Photo courtesy of Alan Vernon, Flickr.

Science Content Knowledge These movements are almost always based on the availability of food rather than "keeping warm." Birds need to eat a lot to keep going; some species can eat up to 20 percent of their body weight daily. That's like a 140-pound adult eating 28 pounds of food a day! Plus, birds need to find even more food when they're feeding their young. The need to feed and raise young is the main reason that many birds don't just stay in the warm tropics year-round. Although the tropics have a favorable climate, they are also home to a huge number of birds competing for food. Leaving their tropical winter homes and flying north into the temperate region (the northern United States and Canada) offer birds the promise of a tremendous explosion of food sources, such

as insects, which hatch in the spring and summer. Birds can take advantage of this seasonal supply of food to feed their young. It's a balancing act, though, since migration itself is dangerous and increases a bird's risk of death (see Table). A Balancing Act Some bird species stay in the same place year-round and either raise fewer young (tropical residents) or face higher death rates over the winter (temperate and polar residents). Migrants risk the perils of migration, but are able to raise their young in the food-rich temperate or polar region without having to spend the winter there. Thus, the primary advantage of migration is reproductive. The longer days of the northern summer provide greater opportunities for breeding birds to feed their young. The

Tropical Residents


Temperature and Polar Residents

High survival rate avoid hazards of migration and harsh winter weather

Moderate survival rate due to hazards of migration

Low survival rate due to cold and starvation

Few young raised per year food for young is less abundant

Moderate number of young raised per year due to abundant food in breeding areas

May raise many young per year due to abundant food

extended daylight hours and high food availability allow birds to produce larger clutches of eggs than related non-migratory species that remain in the tropics year-round. These advantages offset the high stress, energetic costs, and other risks of migration. LINKS Wildlife of Antarctica http:// antarctic/wildlife/index.shtml Includes information on penguins and other birds found in Antarctica. All About Birds AllAboutBirds A wealth of information about birding, characteristics and behavior of birds, attracting birds, gear, and conservation.

Arctic Tern. Photo courtesy of Kensai65, Flickr.


Science Content Knowledge All About Birds: Bird Guide AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/ Learn about individual species through this interactive, online guide that includes images, maps, and sounds. Arctic Studies Center: Birds html/birds.html Information about six arctic species: albatross, bald eagle, peregrine falcon, ptarmigan, puffin, and snowy owl. Birds in the Arctic Refuge ANWR/anwrbirds.html A brief article discusses the many migratory species that summer in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS: SCIENCE CONTENT STANDARDS The entire National Science Education Standards document can be read online or downloaded for free from the National Academies Press web site. The following excerpt was taken from Chapter 6, http:// record_id=4962&page=103. A study of birds aligns with the Life Science content standards of the National Science Education Standards. In grades K-4, students focus on the characteristics and life cycles of organisms and the way in which organisms live in their environments. Students in grades 5-8 expand on this understanding by focusing on

populations, communities of species, and the ways they interact with each other and with their environment. Teaching about birds can meet a wide variety of fundamental concepts and principles, including: K-4 Life Science • The Characteristics of Organisms • Life Cycles of Organisms • Organisms and Their Environments 5-8 Life Science • Reproduction and Heredity • Regulation and Behavior • Populations and Ecosystems • Diversity and Adaptations of Organisms

Penguin’s Paradise. Photo courtesy of Anne Froehlich, Flickr.


Literacy Content Knowledge Questioning to Understand Content Area Text By Jessica Fries-Gaither As teachers, we're well versed in the art of questioning. In fact, research shows that teachers typically spend anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of their instructional time asking questions. While there's no denying that this is a valuable instructional tool, teaching students to ask their own questions is also critical. As a reading comprehension strategy, questioning helps students set an authentic purpose for reading and creates engaged readers. By asking questions, students clarify meaning and enhance their understanding, make connections, and monitor their comprehension. Experts also believe that questioning helps students retain their thoughts while reading. Questioning can be employed before, during, and after reading through many different methods. The SQ3R (Survey-QuestionRead-Recite-Review) approach involves creating questions from titles, headings, and

subheadings. QAR (QuestionAnswer Relationship) teaches students to identify four categories of questions (Right There, Think and Search, Author and Me, and On My Own). Other methods teach students to differentiate between factual and inferential questions. Regardless of the method used, it is important for teachers to model asking questions from a familiar text. Concrete experiences and teacher think-alouds provide support and build confidence as students begin to apply the strategy. In Chapter 5 ("Questioning: Fuel for Thought") of Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading, Tanny McGregor provides a launching sequence for introducing the strategy of questioning to elementary students. Displaying a chart of "thinking stems" provides additional support and prompting for students as they practice the strategy (page 8). Questioning can be used with fiction and nonfiction text. We've created a questioning template that can be used in conjunction with this month's Feature Story, "The Dance of Life" on page 9.


Research shows that teachers typically spend anywhere from 35 to 50 percent of their instructional time asking questions.



Question-Answer Relationship Template onramp:16354/ QAR_template.pdf This comprehension worksheet asks students to label questions with the correct QAR type and then provide answers. Students also generate an additional question, label it with a QAR type, and provide an answer. This template can be used with the grades 2-3 or 4-5 version of this month's Feature Story, "The Dance of Life." QAR Literacy Set fwd/ipy_0902_set_lit_6026.html This Content Clips set includes all of the materials you need to teach the Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) method of asking and answer questions: a strategy article (pdf document),


Literacy Content Knowledge printable and electronic book versions of "The Dance of Life" and "Sanderlings: Traveling Birds," and the student template. BOOKS • Harvey, Stephanie and Anne Goudvis. 2000. Strategies That Work. York, ME: Stenhouse. • McGregor, Tanny and Stephanie Harvey. 2007. Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. LINKS Questioning strategy/strategy_each.aspx? id=000003 An overview of questioning. Includes links to additional resources. Questioning: A Comprehension Strategy for Small-Group Guided Reading (Grades 3-5) lessons/lesson_view.asp? id=408 In this lesson, the teacher explains the difference between thin (factual) and thick (inferential) questions, and then models how to compose question webs by thinking aloud while reading. Students practice composing thin and thick questions, as well as monitoring their comprehension, by using 8

question webs independently in small-group reading. Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) instruction/ela/6-12/Reading/ Reading%20Strategies/ QAR.htm An overview of the QAR strategy. Guided Comprehension: SelfQuestioning Using QuestionAnswer Relationships (Grades 3-5) lessons/lesson_view.asp? id=227 This lesson introduces students to the comprehension strategy of self-questioning. Students learn the types of questionanswer relationships (QARs), identify where and how answers can be found, and demonstrate their understanding of the strategy. The lesson may be adapted for use with any text. Applying Question-Answer Relationships to Pictures (Grades 3-5) http:// lessons/lesson_view.asp? id=370 Students are often asked comprehension questions based on text that they have read. However, it is important for students to consider pictures used in the text as well. Pictures can

help increase students' understanding of the text, topic, or story. In this lesson, students are asked four different types of questions about the pictures found in a wordless picture book. The questions range in difficulty from those with answers that can be found in the text to those that require inferences. Students learn to categorize questions by the four question types and use pictures to help them better understand a story. The SQ3R Reading Method texred2.htm An overview of the SQ3R (Survey-Question-Read-ReciteReview) method. SQ3R Chart Generator web_tools/graphic_org/sq3r/ Enter a title or teacher name to generate and print an SQ3R graphic organizer.

Download a pdf of Chapter 5, “Questioning Fuel for Thought” from Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading at: shared/onlineresources/ E00887/chapter5.pdf

Feature Story The Dance of Life Stories for Students (and Teachers)!

This nonfiction article is written for use with upper-elementary students (grades 4-5). Modified versions are available for students in grades K-1 and grades 2-3, or any student needing a simplified version. As always, consider the reading level and needs of your students when selecting a version for classroom use. At each grade level, the article is available in three forms Printable pdf files allow you to print this story in either text or a foldable book format. A partnership with Content Clips has allowed us to create electronic versions of the articles. Your students can read along as they listen to the text a wonderful way to support struggling readers! Reading strategy templates and related activities provide tips for integrating this story with your science and literacy instruction.

By Stephen Whitt Warm ocean waves crash against the sandy shore. The sun marks the beginning to yet another perfect day. Sunbeams splash across the surface waters. Waves roll up the sloping beach, then slide back down, leaving behind smooth, glistening wet sand. As the water retreats, tiny animals scurry to bury their sand-colored shells in the sand. These are mole crabs. One is caught and pulled up in a jetblack beak. The hunter, a small dusty-white bird with long legs and delicate feet, scrambles up the beach to escape the waves. As she runs from the water, she swallows a mole crab whole, Sanderling. Photo courtesy of kellycolganazar, Flickr.

then turns to look for more. She is a type of shore bird called a sanderling. You can see sanderlings on the beach in the early morning or late evening. These little birds dance along the water's edge, daring the waves to catch them. The sanderlings are so swift that they almost always succeed. This dance is serious business. The mole crabs that the sanderlings catch are critical to their survival. The sanderlings will soon leave this warm beach to journey to a place as cold and bleak as this one is warm and inviting. Sanderlings are migratory birds. Each spring, they leave beaches in Florida, the Caribbean, and South America and travel to the Arctic to nest and raise their young. Some travel almost halfway around the Earth.

Interested in other nonfiction articles for your students? Browse all twenty sets from the Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears collection on our Stories for Students page, http:// information.php?topic=stories!


Feature Story

Solo Sanderling. Photo courtesy of Elnias, stock.xchng.

The sanderlings arrive in the far north in late spring, when it is still cold. Sudden storms can chill these tropic-loving birds and freeze their delicate feet. The first few Arctic days are the most dangerous for the weary sanderlings. But as spring becomes summer the Arctic blossoms with life. Flowers bloom and butterflies visit them frantically. Insects and their larvae burst forth, providing the sanderlings food. Refreshed, the small birds build their nests. In a world with no trees and few plants, the sanderlings' nests are simple. Sanderling mothers choose a site near vegetation and water. They form a depression in soft ground with their bodies. Dried leaves plucked from plants form the beds of the nests. Mothers lay three or four spotted eggs, then huddle to keep the eggs warm.


Sanderling. Photo courtesy of Velo Steve, Flickr. Pacific Mole Crab. Photo courtesy of jkirkhart35, Flickr.

Both mother and father help protect the eggs from the cold Arctic air and the foxes and jaegers (hunting birds) that would make the eggs a meal. About 24 days after they're laid, the eggs hatch. The parents and chicks stay in the nest for only about 12 hours, and then head to the water's edge to feed. There's a lot to teach young sanderlings, and little time to teach it. The parents teach the chicks to find food and avoid danger. The chicks grow and learn quickly. After just two weeks, the chicks begin to fly. Amazingly, one thing the parents don't teach their chicks is where to go next. The Arctic summer is short, and the birds must return to their warm southern beaches before winter. Soon after the chicks begin flying, the adults depart. But the chicks are too weak for such a long flight so

soon. Four to six weeks later, with no adults to show them the way, the chicks begin their own long journey to beaches they've never seen. How do the chicks do it? How do they know to fly south toward the warmth of the sun? How do they know to hug the shoreline, avoiding the mainland and the open ocean? Quite simply, they are born with it. As the cold and darkness of November once again grip the north lands, the young sanderlings head for the warm parts of the world, where sunshine and surf will provide food and companionship for many months. Most young sanderlings stay in the sunny south for a full year to feed and grow. But then, these young birds return to the faraway land of snow and ice to take part in the dance of life.

Feature Story GLOSSARY jaeger: a hunting bird that lives in the Arctic migratory: animals that move from one place to another seasonally sanderling: a bird that lives on beaches in the fall and winter and in the Arctic in the spring and summer READING STRATEGY TEMPLATES The article provides an opportunity for students to practice asking and answering questions. The following template can be used in conjunction with "The Dance of Life" and "Sanderlings: Traveling Birds." For more information on this strategy, please see

"Questioning to Understand Content Text" on page 7. QAR Template onramp:16354/ QAR_template.pdf Students label questions with one of the four QAR types (Right There, Think and Search, On My Own, or Author and Me) and then answer using the text. RELATED ACTIVITIES Arctic Terns From North to South (Grades K-2) http:// xpeditions/lessons/09/gk2/ migrationterns.html The arctic tern is an amazing migratory bird, traveling over

22,000 miles in a year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again. Students will map this bird's migration route and consider why it wants to migrate so far. They will conclude by writing paragraphs describing the arctic tern's migration route and explaining how they think the bird knows when it's time to migrate. Arctic Tern Migration Simulation (Grades 3-5) sitebuildercontent/ sitebuilderfiles/arctictern.pdf Students create a model arctic tern using patterns and heavy card stock. They simulate fishing, nesting, and migration using their models. Sanderlings in flight. Photo courtesy of B&M Photography, Flickr.


Teaching & Assessment Strategies Kids Becoming Scientists Through Schoolyard Inquiry By Jennifer Fee Teaching science as inquiry can provide you with the opportunity to develop your students' scientific and critical-thinking abilities and enrich their understanding of science. In fact, the National Science Education Standards state that students should learn science by conducting investigations into authentic, original questions generated from their own realworld experiences. This way, students gain skills they will need to become lifelong learners who can access, analyze, and synthesize information and apply it to a diverse range of new situations and problems, regardless of their chosen professions. WHAT IS INQUIRY? The National Science Education Standards advise that science teachers should employ varied strategies, using inquiry as a central approach. The Standards define inquiry as:


... a multifaceted activity that involves making observations; posing questions; examining books and other sources of information to see what is already known; planning investigations; reviewing what is already known in light of experimental evidence; using tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data; proposing answers, explanations, and predictions; and communicating the results (page 23). Teachers might understandably find this process a bit challenging. Though pedagogically risky, inquirybased lessons inevitably provide rich opportunities for learning. In contrast to the traditional "cookbook lab" approach (in which the outcome of laboratory experiences is predetermined and unexpected results are viewed as failures), inquiry investigations bring science alive because the answers are unknown (at least to the questioner) and unexpected results are valuable and interesting scientific findings that can lead to further investigations. SCHOOLYARD INQUIRY THROUGH CITIZEN SCIENCE While authentic inquiry might pose a unique set of challenges for classroom teachers, we've found that students of all ages

have become successfully engaged in schoolyard inquiry through citizen-science projects. "Scientists can't be everywhere," one seventh grader told us. "So kids from all over can record data and send it in." For example, through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's citizenscience program, people across the continent become scientists by collecting data about their local birds and sending the information to professional scientists who study bird populations and conservation. These scientists need data collected from a large geographic area to help them draw conclusions about such issues as the effects of global warming, habitat loss, and disease. We've found that students are especially motivated by helping scientists and the "real-world" implications of the data they collect. HOW MIGHT INQUIRY LOOK IN THE CLASSROOM? In a seventh-grade classroom in New Hampshire, Robin Ellwood routinely has her students do inquiry in her classroom using a Cornell Lab of Ornithology program called BirdSleuth. In the past, she's asked groups of two to four students to work together, designing and

Teaching & Assessment Strategies implementing an experimental study on birds.

students submit sections of their projects as they complete them, so she can give recommendations as the students progress. As she says, "Mini due dates help keep them on track."

Ellwood required each group to complete a minimum of eight one-hour observation Binoculars. Photo courtesy periods at home or dionhinchcliffe, Flickr. at school. Most of her students finished their WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE experimental observations ABOUT INQUIRY? within two to three weeks. The National Research Council, publisher of the National Science Each group of students wrote a Education Standards in 1996, paper, which was submitted to published a separate volume Classroom BirdScope, the focused on inquiry in the science Cornell Lab of Ornithology's classroom in 2000, Inquiry and student research publication. the National Science Education Each group also prepared Standards. posters, which were displayed in The following web sites provide the school's entryway so that information about inquiry: the entire community could admire the research. Finally, the BirdSleuth students gave oral presentations in class as part of their BirdSleuth is a curriculum with assessment. modules that can be used as stand-alone units or completed Peer review has been a critical sequentially. You can choose component of the inquiry and modules that match your paper-writing process. Students teaching objectives and student review the papers and posters interests. Visit the inquiry pages for each other, using a Peer and download free inquiry Review Sheet provided through lessons. This site also provides a the Lab's BirdSleuth curriculum. growing number of resources, Ellwood also provides a grading such as online courses, a rubric to the students so they reference list about inquiry, and a can self-evaluate their student research webzine. performance as they go along.

Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) BSCS has developed a "5 E" model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) for implementing inquiry lessons. The Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry ifi/ This museum web site includes the Institute for Inquiry, which is dedicated to promoting inquirybased science learning. The Institute provides a variety of workshops, forums, and resources. Citizen Science Toolkit citscitoolkit/projects/schoolyouth-education This site provides information about citizen science projects and a special list of projects for schools and young people. Birdwatcher's Delight: Birds and Inquiry Learning onramp:16499/IPY-BPPB-3Birds.mp3 In this month's Beyond Penguins podcast, listen to author Jennifer Fee discuss using birds and citizen-science projects to promote inquiry learning.

Over the years, Ellwood found that it was best to require that


Misconceptions Common Misconceptions About Birds By Jessica Fries-Gaither We know that students come to science class with many preconceived ideas and misconceptions. While misconceptions in physical, earth, and space science have gotten a fair amount of attention and research, misconceptions about life science are less understood. Yet we know that students do hold incorrect ideas about animals, including birds. Classification, characteristics, behavior, and interaction with humans are all areas of possible misconceptions. Among bird species, penguins are particularly likely to be misunderstood. Children's literature, animated films, and commercials present incorrect or incomplete information about these birds. Nevertheless, students are fascinated by penguins - making it worthwhile for teachers to consider the

SnowySheathbill. Photo courtesy of Glenn Grant, United States Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.


various ideas that their students might hold. In this article, we discuss some common misconceptions related to birds: classification, characteristics, behavior, and interaction with humans. We also provide tools for formative assessment and ideas for teaching the correct scientific concepts. NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS Assessing and targeting student misconceptions about birds meets the Life Science Content Standard for grades K-4 and 5-8 of the National Science Education Standards. Read the entire National Science Education Standards online for free or register to download the free PDF. The content standards are found in Chapter 6, http:// record_id=4962&page=103.

The Arctic Redpoll. Photo courtesy of Juho Holmi, Flickr.

Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BIRD CLASSIFICATION S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ... An animal is a land mammal other than a human being. Insects, birds and fish are not animals.

In stead o f th in kin g. ..

Animals live in marine and terrestrial environments. Insects, birds, and fish are all animals.


In stead o f th in kin g. ..

Birds have teeth in their beaks.

Birds do not have teeth.

Birds' eyes are located in the front of their heads.

Most birds have eyes on the sides of their heads.

Birds' legs have "knees" that bend the bottom of the legs backwards (similar to humans' knees).

Birds' legs have "ankles" that bend the bottom of their legs forwards.

MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BIRD BEHAVIOR S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...

In stead o f th in kin g. ..

Some birds mate for life.

Birds that mate "for life" have a high chance of staying with the same partner for an extended period. Other birds change partners every year, or several times within the same year.

Birds fly south in the winter.

Birds migrate to an area where the resources they need can be found. This may be a long distance (to the tropics, a coast, or even a different elevation). Some species do not migrate, or move, in response to fluctuating resources.


Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT BIRD BEHAVIOR (CONTINUED) Birds migrate because it's cold (to avoid freezing).

Birds migrate toward areas of increasing or higher resources (nesting sites, food). Both environmental (temperature, daylight) and genetic factors are involved in migration.

Hummingbirds migrate on the backs of geese.

This has never been observed, and there is virtually no overlap in the migration pattern and timing of geese and hummingbirds.

Small birds are carried long distances by powerful storms.

Small birds are not adapted to deal with high winds. High winds ground small birds, not blow them around.



In stead o f th in kin g. ..

Parent birds will abandon a nest if it has been touched by humans.

Birds may abandon a nest if humans approach a nest too often because other predators may be led to the nest by the scent.

Bird feeders should be taken down in the fall because they keep birds from migrating.

Birds migrate because of genetic and environmental cues. The presence of bird feeders will not cause them to stay!

You should not throw rice at weddings because birds eat it, and it swells up in their stomach and kills them (or makes them explode).

Birds have no trouble digesting rice, or any other "expanding" vegetable.

Misconceptions MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT PENGUINS S t u d e n t s m ay thi nk ...

In stead o f th in kin g. ..

Penguins live anywhere it's cold.

Penguins live only in the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins do not live in cold climates in the Northern Hemisphere (like the Arctic).

Penguins live only in Antarctica (or on the ice).

Of the 17 penguin species, only a few live and nest in Antarctica. Penguin species are found across the Southern Hemisphere.

Penguins only live in cold places.

Penguins live on the southern edges of Africa, Australia, and South America and the Galapagos Islands near the equator! A cold current from Antarctica keeps the water near the Galapagos cool enough for the penguins to survive.

Penguins have fur to keep warm.

Like other birds, penguins have feathers. Penguin feathers are short, dense, and packed so tightly together that they often look like smooth skin. Chicks are covered in fuzzy down, which keeps them warm and may resemble fur.

Penguins are fish, mammals, or amphibians because they live in water, on land, or both.

Penguins are birds, even though they spend time on land and in water. Their motion in the water more closely resembles flying than the swimming motion used by other animals.

Polar bears eat penguins.

Polar bears live in the Northern Hemisphere and penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, so the species never interact.

Penguins are only black and white.

Some penguin species are black and white, but others have shades of black, white, grays, blues, yellows, and oranges. Species may have red eyes, brightly colored feathers, bright orange beaks, or pink feet.


Misconceptions PROBING FOR STUDENT UNDERSTANDING What do your students think? Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science (available from NSTA Press) each contain 25 formative assessment probes to help teachers identify misconceptions. While the probes do not specifically relate to birds, one of the probes about animals can provide insight into students' understanding of bird classification. For other topics, we've suggested simple classroom activities or created our own assessment probes. IMG_4846 Emperor penguin. Photo courtesy of ianduffy, Flickr.


Bird Classification In Volume 1 of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, "Is It an Animal?" asks students to decide which organisms (including birds) are animals, providing insight into the ways in which students classify organisms such as birds, mammals, insects, and fish. Bird Characteristics Assessing student ideas about the physical characteristics of birds may be as simple as creating and discussing drawings. In the lesson "Bird Up," students draw pictures of birds and share their prior knowledge - two sources of data about student understanding. While the lesson is designed for grade 3 and up, teachers of primary students could also

have their students draw pictures and discuss their understanding of bird characteristics. • Bird Up (Grades 3-5) http:// target/technology/ elementary/bird_up/ index.html Teachers can assess student misconceptions through drawing and discussion. Students use online resources to learn about birds and their characteristics. Bird Behavior Students may hold many misconceptions about migration. One way for a teacher to assess student ideas is to introduce the concept of migration through the

Misconceptions discussion of a picture book such as Home At Last, (page 30), or this month's Feature Story about sanderlings, (page 9). Teachers can use the books to start a discussion of bird migration, and ask students to share what they know through a discussion or a K-W-L chart. • The Dance of Life http:// issue/column.php? date=February2009&departm entid=literacy&columnid=liter acy!feature An article about sanderlings, a migratory bird species, for students in grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. Available as a textonly document, full-color

illustrated book, or electronic book. • KWL Chart browse/article.jsp?id=2984 Print a blank chart for student use. Bird and Human Interactions Misconceptions about birdhuman interactions may not surface in the context of a classroom unit, but they may arise in informal conversations with students. While they may not be part of traditional classroom instruction or curriculum, it is important for teachers to be aware of possible misconceptions and correct information in the event of such a "teachable moment."

Penguins We have followed the model used by Page Keeley and coauthors in the three volumes of Uncovering Student Ideas in Science (© 2005-2008 by NSTA Press) and created a similar probe to elicit students' ideas about the number of penguin species and their distribution worldwide. • Where Do Penguins Live? onramp:16308/ Where_Do_Penguins_Live.pdf This probe, modeled (with permission from NSTA Press) after those found in Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Volumes 1, 2, and 3, is designed to elicit student ideas about penguins and their habitats worldwide.


Misconceptions From left to right: Arctic Tern. Photo courtesy of Kensai65, Flickr. EMPERORSTHREE. Photo courtesy of Robyn Waserman, U.S. Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation.

TEACHING THE SCIENCE Observations of birds in the wild (as well as supplemental images in books and online) can help students better understand the unique physical characteristics of birds. In the lesson "Bird Up," students use online resources to develop understanding and reflect on their misconceptions and learning. For more lessons on bird characteristics and behavior, please see "Hands-on Lessons and Activities about Birds" on page 23.


programs are valuable for both classroom and informal learning experiences, there is the possibility of the development of misconceptions from partial/ incorrect explanations or students constructing explanations based on their (limited) observations. Teachers should be careful to present accurate explanations of bird behavior (including migration).

Bird Up (Grades 3-5) http:// target/technology/elementary/ bird_up/index.html Teachers can assess student misconceptions through drawing and discussion. Students use online resources to learn about birds and their characteristics.

Children's literature (such as the titles found in our Virtual Bookshelf on page 27) can expose students to many types of birds as well as the wide variety of penguin species found across the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, interdisciplinary lessons and activities provide opportunities for students to develop an understanding of penguin characteristics.

Citizen science projects from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology allow students to observe bird behavior firsthand. While these

Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Citizen Science netcommunity/citsci/projects

This web page provides an overview of several citizen science projects about birds. Penguins: K-3 Teacher's Guide penguin-k-3.pdf Penguins: 4-8 Teacher's Guide penguin-4-8.pdf These two interdisciplinary units include goals, objectives, vocabulary, hands-on activities integrating science, mathematics, art, and language, and assessment ideas about penguins. Penguins Around the World ~west/proj/penguins/main.html This interactive site includes lesson plans, a kid-friendly interactive map, a slide show, an online treasure hunt for penguin facts, and two online quizzes.

Across the Curriculum: Lessons Project FeederWatch: Integrating Real-Time Science and Math By Jessica Fries-Gaither Project FeederWatch is a citizen science project operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. Participants identify and count birds that visit feeders during the winter. Data is submitted to help scientists monitor bird populations across the North American continent In addition to involving students in real-time data collection, Project FeederWatch provides many possibilities for crosscurricular integrations. We've focused on math; many more

content areas and suggestions appear on the Project FeederWatch web site, http:// A newly launched Homeschooler's Guide provides support for those participating outside a traditional classroom. Many of the activities in the guide could be modified for classroom use as well. IDEAS FOR MATH INTEGRATION Data Collection Students are required to keep accurate records of bird counts as they participate in the project. Teachers can use this project to teach elements of data analysis, including the creation of data tables and use of tally marks. Data Analysis Teachers can also have students analyze their data by creating bar graphs showing the various species that visit the feeder, line graphs that show the number of visits over the course of a week,

and so on. This is also a way to teach concepts such as mean, median, and mode (number of visits, species) with real-world data. Ratios, Fractions, Decimals, Percents Bird data could also be used to illustrate ratios, fractions, decimals, and percents. For example, a student might notice that out of four birds to visit the feeder on a given day, one was a cardinal. The student could then express that data as a ratio, fraction, decimal, and percent. Estimation Estimation is a difficult concept for elementary students, and many struggle with the realworld connection. Yet wildlife biologists often must estimate to obtain population numbers. Observing large groups of birds at a feeder may provide a "teachable moment" for practicing estimation skills.

From left to right: Tundraurpiainen - The Arctic Redpoll - Carduelis hornemanni. Photo courtesy of Juho Holmi, Flickr. Arctic Warbler. Photo courtesy of Alnus, Wikimedia Commons.


Across the Curriculum: Lessons Word Problems Word (or story) problems are extremely challenging for students. Teachers often have students write their own problems to promote understanding or demonstrate mastery. Bird data collected from Project FeederWatch might provide perfect material for either teacher-written or studentwritten word problems, and students may have more success solving problems that stem from such a familiar context. Basic Numeracy Skills Of course, the collected data also provides an opportunity to practice basic skills such as addition (How many birds did we

see in all?) and subtraction (How many more birds did we see today than yesterday?). Measurement and Money Students can weigh the birdseed before and after each count. BirdSleuth, a curriculum from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, suggests using these measurements to calculate the average consumption rate and predict how often the feeders need to be refilled. Students could also track the volume of birdseed before and after each count. Another suggestion in the BirdSleuth curriculum is to have students plan the feeder design.

PROJECT FEEDERWATCH The project home page provides links to instructions, a data entry portal, access to data, news, and educational resources.

Project FeederWatch is a joint research and education project of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.


This activity allows students to use a variety of measurements (length, height, and width) and even geometry concepts such as planes, shapes, and angles. Older students could also determine the cost of materials needed to create their feeder, incorporating concepts such as unit price and finding the best deal for the materials. Students could compare prices of birdseed from a variety of vendors, calculating the best unit price.

Science & Literacy: Lessons Hands-on Science and Literacy Lessons About Birds By Jessica Fries-Gaither While birds and other animals are popular topics with elementary students, it can sometimes be challenging to create truly hands-on lessons about them. With the help of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, we're pleased to provide a nine-lesson unit that ties observation and

study of birds with physical science concepts. We also include lessons that deal with pollution's effect on birds and migration. Of course, a polar science issue about birds would not be complete without a section devoted to penguins! We've highlighted a unique real-time nest check of Cape Royds Adelie penguin families as well as interdisciplinary units that help students investigate the many penguin species throughout the Southern Hemisphere, penguin characteristics, life cycles, and response to environmental factors such as oil spills and climate change.

BIRD LESSONS AND ACTIVITIES Amazing Birds (Grades K-5) This unit uses bird activities and Macaulay Library sounds and videos as a springboard for exploring physical science concepts such as sound, magnetism, flight, and simple machines. Nine lessons include: Observing Birds, Physical Adaptations of Birds, Sound Is Energy, Why Birds Sing, Bird Beaks, Flight and Feathers, Magnetic Migration, Culminating Activities, and Optional Extension Activities and Assessment. From the web page, you can download a teacher manual and student sheets, see sound and video examples from the Macaulay Library, and learn how to rent a kit with supporting materials.

The science lessons in this article meet the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education Standards. Some also meet the Science as Inquiry Content Standard, Physical Science Content Standard, and the Science in Personal and Social Perspectives Content Standard. You can read the entire National Science Education Standards online for free or register to download the free PDF. The content standards are found in Chapter 6, http:// record_id=4962&page=103.

This unit meets the following content standards of the National Science Education Standards: Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, and Life Science. To integrate literacy into these lessons, try the following: Investigating Animals: Using Nonfiction for Inquiry-Based Research (Grades K-2) lesson_view.asp?id=187 Through the use of nonfiction, students can be encouraged and challenged to learn more about favorite animals and to document their findings with graphic organizers. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 4, 7, 12.


Science & Literacy: Lessons Multimedia Responses to Content Area Topics Using Fact - "Faction" - Fiction (Grades 3-5) lesson_view.asp?id=119 In this lesson, students work cooperatively using a strategy called Fact-"Faction"-Fiction to identify what they know, gather information, and create their own multimedia diaries using PowerPoint. While the lesson centers around spiders, it could be easily adapted for birds.

complete a sequencing graphic organizer using a story of a fish and its journey from the mountains to a polluted waterway. Finally, students’ understanding of cause and effect is reinforced using a hands-on experiment, art project, and graphic organizer. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 5, 7, 8.

This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12. Bird Baths: Cleaning Up Wildlife After Oil Spills (Grades 3-5) lessons/14/g35/dawnducks.html In this lesson, students will explore the causes and effects of events such as oil spills and contaminations. They will then experience firsthand the feel of oil spills, determine an environmental problem that affects their community, and develop an "action plan" to minimize the risk to one form of wildlife. Finally, they will examine ways in which public and private organizations partner to keep the environment, and its wildlife, healthy. This lesson meets the following content standards of the National Science Education Standards: Science as Inquiry, Life Science, Science in Personal and Social Perspectives. To integrate literacy into this lesson, try the following: Reading and Writing about Pollution to Understand Cause and Effect (Grades 3-5) lesson_view.asp?id=1035 In this lesson, third-grade students access prior knowledge about water pollution before exploring the topic further using read-alouds. They then


Arctic Tern. Photo courtesy of Kensai65, Flickr.

MIGRATION Arctic Terns From North to South (Grades K-2) lessons/09/gk2/migrationterns.html The arctic tern is an amazing migratory bird, traveling over 22,000 miles in a year from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again. Students will map this bird's migration route and consider why it wants to migrate so far. They will conclude by writing paragraphs describing the arctic tern's migration route and explaining how they think it knows when it's time to migrate. This lesson meets the following content standard of the National Science Education Standards: Life Science.

Science & Literacy: Lessons Arctic Tern Migration Simulation (Grades 3-5) sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/arctictern.pdf Students create a model arctic tern using patterns and heavy card stock. They simulate fishing, nesting, and migration using their models. This lesson meets the following content standard of the National Science Education Standards: Life Science. To integrate literacy skills into these lessons, try the following: Completing the Circle: The Craft of Circular Plot Structure (Grades K-2) lesson_view.asp?id=827 After exploring the organizing structure and writer's craft of picture books, students identify, explore and apply the elements of circle plot structures to their own stories. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, 12. Unwinding A Circular Plot: Prediction Strategies in Reading and Writing (Grades 3-5) lesson_view.asp?id=292 Students explore circular plot structure with a graphic organizer and write their own stories. Why not one about an arctic tern's migration? This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 2, 3, 8, 11, 12.

PENGUIN LESSONS AND ACTIVITIES Cape Royds Nest Check (Grades K-5) royds_nestcheck.php Your students follow six Adelie penguin families via data and pictures, updated daily. Students can create field books and record observations, weather conditions, and nest status. The data can also be used for the Nesting Time and Population Counts activities. The education page of the Penguin Science web site also includes several other activities and information about Antarctica. This lesson meets the following content standards of the National Science Education Standards: Science as Inquiry and Life Science. To integrate literacy into this activity, try the following: Writing in Science Field Journals (Grades K-2; modify for 3-5) lesson_view.asp?id=846 Students create field journals to record data, drawings, and reflections. While the lesson describes a gardening project, teachers can easily modify the lesson to focus on penguins in conjunction with the Cape Royds Nest Check. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12. Webcams in the Classroom: Animal Inquiry and Observation (Grades 3-5; modify for K-2) lesson_view.asp?id=234 While the Cape Royds Nest Check is not a webcam, teachers can use this lesson to help students make observations from the data and photos. Teachers can also use the penguin webcam available at: http:// 25

Science & Literacy: Lessons This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 7, 8, 12. Penguins (Grades K-3) guides/pdf/penguin-K-3.pdf Penguins (Grades 4-8) guides/pdf/penguin-4-8.pdf These two teacher's guides from the SeaWorld Education Department include interdisciplinary units about penguins. These units meet the Life Science Content Standard of the National Science Education. What's Happening to the Emperor Penguins? (Grades 3-5) lessons/18/g35/seaspenguin.html Students will learn about emperor penguins' habitat and behaviors and will illustrate a map to show what they have learned. They will view pictures of icebergs that are affecting penguin colonies and consider what impacts these icebergs might have on the penguins. They will conclude by writing paragraphs describing the maps that they have illustrated.

techniques to help students identify factual information about animals. Children first identify possible factual information from works of fiction that are read aloud; then they listen to readalouds of nonfiction texts to identify and confirm factual information, which is recorded on charts and graphic organizers. They also use the Internet to gather additional information about the animal. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 6, 7, 8. Blending Fiction and Nonfiction to Improve Comprehension and Writing Skills (Grades 3-5) lesson_view.asp?id=262 This lesson supports the use of a text set (paired fiction and nonfiction texts on a similar topic) to increase student interest in and understanding of content area material and to develop critical writing skills. This lesson meets the following NCTE/IRA Standards: 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 12.

This lesson meets the following content standards of the National Science Education Standards: Life Science and Science in Personal and Social Perspectives. To integrate literacy into these lessons and units, try the following: Animal Study: From Fiction to Facts (Grades K-2) lesson_view.asp?id=286 This lesson describes how to use selected fiction and nonfiction literature and careful questioning


IMG_4723 Emperor Penguin. Photo courtesy of ianduffy, Flickr.

Off The Bookshelf: Birds Polar Birds: Virtual Bookshelf By Kate Hastings

Did you know penguins only live in the Southern Hemisphere while penguin-like Alcids (puffins, razorbills and auklets) are exclusive to the Northern Hemisphere? This is just one of the many facts I learned while compiling this month's bookshelf. I was shocked to find such a diversity of avian species in the polar regions! I would never have thought to find

sandpipers in the tundra or that the same gulls I see on the beach every summer in the Carolinas could survive off the coasts of Canada. Enjoy this month's selections (Arctic Birds, Antarctic Birds, Migratory Species, and Penguins and Polar Bears) and go... beyond penguins!


Snowy Owls. Helen Frost. 2007. Nonfiction easy reader. Recommended ages: Grades K-1. Simple text and photos give very basic information about snowy owls-where they live and nest and what they eat. Younger students may be able to read independently. Use with Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl in a lesson such as Animal Study: From Fiction to Facts (see page 26). Ookpik: The Travels of a Snowy Owl. Bruce Hiscock. 2008. Picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-4. A pair of snowy owls struggle to raise their chicks during the long days of summer and a lemming shortage. Two chicks survive, and Ookpik is forced to travel further and further south to find food. First he travels from his preferred wide-open tundra to the coniferous taiga, past farms and more populated areas until he finds

himself in the Adirondacks hunting rats and mice. Paintings show the bleak landscape and how outof-place the owl looks sitting on a bale of hay in a New England farm. A page of facts about the owl follows the story. Sure to be a hit with students. Pair with Snowy Owls in a lesson such as Animal Study: From Fiction to Facts. Gone Again Ptarmigan. Jonathan London. 2001. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-5. A lynx stalks a snowshoe hare... and suddenly ptarmigans burst from the snow, hidden by their white feathers. As spring arrives, so do brown feathers, which keep the ptarmigans disguised as they hide among leaves in the melting snow. This simple story will have students clamoring to find the ptarmigan on each page (there isn't one on every page) as various arctic predators hunt. Great for classroom discussions about adaptation and camouflage.


Off The Bookshelf: Birds The Puffins are Back. Gail Gibbons. 1991. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4. Scientists arrive right on time to see the puffins gather off the coast of Maine. They are pleased that their efforts to increase the population have been working. Normally gray in color, these auks "dress up" for breeding season. From a special blind, the scientists observe pairs carving out burrows in the ground, and watching chicks take their first flight at night when their predators are asleep. Cartoon-like illustrations show the birds in action.

Looking for Seabirds: Journal from an Alaskan Voyage. Sophie Webb. 2004. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 2005. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5. Follow researcher Sophie Webb as she boards the research ship Alpha Helix and sails to the Aleutian Islands to study arctic seabirds. It is difficult for biologists to study birds at sea, where the birds spend most of their lives, because of the violent waters and wind. Here, the ship follows plankton populations and kelp beds hoping to capture a more realistic picture of the behavior of auklets, petrels, albatross, fulmars, and murres. Simple watercolor illustrations capture the grandness of the landscape and the beauty of arctic birds.

ANTARCTIC BIRDS A Penguin's World. Caroline Arnold. 2006. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Cut-paper illustrations encourage children to read on and discover more about Adelie penguins. Suitable for student research or for a collage art project. Penguins and Their Chicks. Margaret Hall. 2004. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Large, bright photographs and simple text explain basic facts about penguins in general. Different species are shown, but not named. Good for sharing with a large group at the beginning of a unit of study. The section "Watch Penguins Grow" uses full-color photographs to introduce the concept of life cycles and timelines. 28

The Emperor Lays an Egg. Brenda Z. Guiberson. 2001. Picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-2. Collage illustrations provide the backdrop to this informational text about the extreme conditions in which emperor penguins live and reproduce. In addition to providing rich content, the book could be used as the springboard for an art activity.

Off The Bookshelf: Birds ANTARCTIC BIRDS (CONTINUED) A Mother's Journey. Sandra Markle. 2005. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 2006. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-5. This book about emperor penguins would tie in perfectly with the documentary March of the Penguins. The watercolor and ink illustrations portray the harsh conditions the females must endure as they travel to the ocean to eat, and their journey home through the growing ice sheets. Watching Penguins in Antarctica. Louise and Richard Spilsbury. 2006. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-4. Follow emperor penguins as they gather in rookeries, toboggan over the ice and hunt in the ocean. Color photographs accompany the straightforward text. Boldfaced words and a glossary help students learn about behaviors such as preening. After reading, students could observe the birds in a zoo or a video and watch for examples of the described behaviors. Penguins at Home. Bruce McMillan. 1993. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. Learn about the Gentoo Penguins of Antarctica. Vocabulary words and talking points appear in the upper corner of each page, with pictures and text to explain the terms. Find out what a brush-tail is, what rookeries are, and get the low-down on guano. This is an older title, but the only one on gentoos. Teachers could use this layout to spark student ideas for an ABC book about penguins.

My Season With Penguins. Sophie Webb. 2000. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 2001. Nonfiction journal. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5. Traveling to Antarctica to study penguins takes more than just a plane ride and a camera. Follow biologist Sophie Webb as she chooses cold weather clothing, attends survival school, and sets up a camp at Cape Royds (within view of Mount Erebus). Here she studies the Adelie penguins for two months. She explains methods for tagging, weighing and tracking penguins and shares the research questions her group hopes to answer during their six-year study. This title would complement the real-time Cape Royds nest check activity on the Penguin Science web site. Penguins. Seymour Simon. 2007. Nonfiction book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. Simon is well known for his informational text for young readers. The first half of the book provides a general overview of penguin characteristics and life cycle, while the second half describes particular species (but not all 17) in more detail. Although the text is dense in places, color photographs provide balance. Perfect for studying informational text or as a springboard for a research project. Teachers of younger students may want to read selected passages aloud, as the entire book may be too long for one sitting.


Off The Bookshelf: Birds MIGRATORY BIRDS Home at Last: A Song of Migration. April Pulley Sayre. 1998. Outstanding Science Trade Book Award 1999. Picture book. Recommended ages: Grades preK-2. Rich pastel-on-black illustrations accompany brief lyrical text describing how a variety of creatures, including a butterfly, a sea turtle, a caribou herd, and an Arctic tern, find their ways home. Pair with science lessons about terns and bird migration. Seeing Seabirds. Allan Fowler. 1999. Nonfiction easy reader. Recommended ages: Grades K-1. Part of the easy Rookie Reader series, this book introduces seabirds, many of whom spend at least part of their life in the arctic: Albatross, Gannets, Cormorants, Puffins, Terns and Gulls. Pair with science lessons about terns and bird migration. Red Knot: A Shorebird's Incredible Journey. Nancy Carol Willis. 2006. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades 3-5. Who knew you could find sandpipers in the middle of the Canadian tundra? Written in short diary entries, the migration of a red knot sandpiper is traced as it leaves the southernmost point of South America, stops in Delaware Bay, and moves north to the tundra where it will breed and nest for the summer. This text could be paired with this month's Feature Story, "The Dance of Life."


Winged Migration: The Junior Edition. Stephane Durand and Guillaume Poyet. 2001. Nonfiction book with CD. Recommended ages: Grades 4-5+. This oversized book shows migration maps for a variety of birds around the world, but includes birds that spend at least part of their life in arctic and subarctic regions. Photographs of Puffins, Arctic Terns, King Penguins, Snow Geese, Mallard Ducks, Great Albatrosses, Gannets, Whooper Swans, Bald Eagles and Barnacle Geese are featured. My favorite featured bird is the arctic tern-a true migratory bird. The birds breed near the North Pole and then travel to the South Pole to fish and winter-over. The text is rather lengthy and lends itself mostly to teachers and upper grades, but younger students will appreciate the maps, photos and sidebars with a few interesting facts. The included CD of bird calls is icing on the cake. Pair with science lessons about terns and bird migration.

Off The Bookshelf: Birds PENGUINS AND POLAR BEARS A Polar Bear Journey. Debbie S. Miller. 2005. Nonfiction picture book. Recommended ages: Grades 2-5. Rich paintings accompany lyrical text that describes the life cycle of a mother polar bear and her two cubs.

Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems. Judy Sierra. 2003. Poetry picture book. Recommended ages: Grades K-5. While we promote the use of nonfiction and informational text to teach science concepts, there's no denying that poetry can spark student interest! Eleven poems describe the habits and habitats of emperor penguins.

Why Use Children’s Literature? Linking science instruction to children's literature has become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of reasons: the literature connection motivates students, provokes interest, helps students connect scientific ideas to their personal experiences, accommodates children with different learning styles, and promotes critical thinking. Whatever the reason, we know that books about science can capture even the most reluctant readers and writers. Students are naturally drawn to the colorful photographs and layouts of nonfiction science texts. Using science books allow teachers to meet their reading and writing goals while filling a need to teach more science. Teachers can use books as a starting point for meaningful classroom discussions; some teachers even begin class by reading a poem or a picture book aloud, simply for the enjoyment of the literature. Some teachers project the book onto a screen so the class can read the text together. Picture books make wonderful writing prompts and can provoke good journal writing. Interdisciplinary thematic units can be broadened by use of children's literature. You’ll notice that most of our selected books are nonfiction. We believe that elementary students need exposure to this genre to set a compelling purpose for reading and to become familiar with the text structures used in expository and informational text. Reading nonfiction trade books also supplements scientific investigations and helps students connect hands-on experiences with abstract concepts. In other cases, the text provides valuable information that cannot be gained through hands-on experience. Finally, nonfiction books can serve as mentor texts, providing models after which students can pattern their own writing.


Abo u t U s Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers. It prepares teachers to integrate high-quality science instruction with literacy teaching. The magazine is available for free at Twenty thematic issues link polar science concepts to the scope and sequence of elementary science curricula. The result is a resource that includes issues devoted to day and night, seasons, plants and mammals, erosion, and other physical, earth and space, and life science concepts. Some issues are also interdisciplinary, focusing on polar explorers, the indigenous people of the Arctic, and the challenges of doing science in the polar regions. To browse the complete archive of issues, visit Other project features include a companion blog ( about polar news and research and a social networking site ( for elementary teachers to communicate and collaborate with colleagues across the country and around the world. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024 and is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) Core Integration team at Cornell University and University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR).

Copyright July 2010. Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears is produced by an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University (OSU), College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center (ORC) for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; COSI (Center for Science and Industry) Columbus; the Upper Arlington Public Library (UAPL); and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. Content in this document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Printed version layout and design by Margaux Baldridge, Office of Technology and Enhanced Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, The Ohio State University. For more information email: