Design a Bird

In pairs, learners invent birds with different skills, behaviors, and characteristics.


To learn how birds can adapt in order to survive


  • Paper
  • Drawing materials
  • Flip chart paper
  • Pictures of different birds if available


45 minutes


Begin by asking the kids to list the tasks birds have to carry out successfully to survive. The list should include find, catch, and eat food; build a nest safe from predators; attract a mate; and protect itself and its young against predators.

The next step is to show the kids how bill shape and food choice are related. Beforehand, on flip chart paper, draw diagrams of bill shapes in one column and different foods in another. Ask the kids to match them. Illustration will have the following beaks: bird of prey (rodent); woodpecker (chisel for digging into wood for insects); small insect eater; sparrow or finch (seeds); heron (spear for catching fish; duck (aquatic plants); and sandpiper with long bill, such as a snipe (worms underground).

Now ask the kids if they know how birds attract mates (bright plumage, songs, and displays). Ask them to tell you any pretty birds they know of and show them some pictures of some (e.g., flamingo, parrot, bird of paradise) if you have them. Now ask the kids why being so gaudy and conspicuous might be risky. (The birds can attract predators.) So what do the birds have to do in order to survive? (They have to be both conspicuous and attractive, yet also have successful strategies for avoiding, hiding, or defending against predators.)

With this introduction, organize the kids into pairs, and ask each to draw a fantasy bird on a large piece of paper big enough for everyone to see. Give them five minutes to do this, and tell them it is not important to be artistic. Go on further to ask students how their fantasy bird will attract a mate, catch food, eat food, defend itself and its young, build a safe nest, and hide itself and its young. Once each pair is finished, ask them to share their pictures and describe the features and behaviors of their creations that enable them to be successful.

This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Armenia.

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