Library Lessons with Picture Books: Observing Birds

The Audubon Society has the perfect tagline: “Get Outside: That’s where the birds are, after all.” Wouldn’t students just love spending time observing birds in the playground? Many birds migrate during the month of March, so now is a great time to pay close attention to nature. Here are a few books with lesson ideas that support the National School Library Standards for Learners.

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard  by Annette LeBlanc Cate

This award-winning book is pure genius. Kids are going to love it because it is hysterically funny. Teachers are going to love it because it’s the perfect mentor text for teaching nonfiction writing. It’s a good idea to have a few copies of this book in your collection for everyone to enjoy.

Lesson Idea: National School Library Standards for Learners: l.B.3. Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes generating products that illustrate learning.

  • Gather many copies of Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate.
  • Divide children into groups to share and explore the text.
  • Ask children what they noticed. What did they learn from the book? What do they need to observe birds in their playground?
  • Pass out paper, crayons, pencils, and clipboards. Put on coats and head outside. Find a place to observe, listen, and draw.
  • Invite students to explore bird books and online resources when they return to the library.

 Have You Heard the Nesting Bird?  by Rita Gray

Get ready to hear different bird calls as you read this delightful book to children. Phonetically spelled bird songs in the story encourage readers to sing like birds. The story ends with an interview with a robin who answers questions about nesting.

Lesson Idea: National School Library Standards for Learners: l.B.1. Learners engage with new knowledge by following a process that includes using evidence to investigate questions.

  • Pass out paper, pencils, and clipboards.
  • Take a walk outside and listen for birds. Tell children to write what they hear by sounding out the bird calls.
  • Visit the websites again to identify the birds they heard.

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming

Reading this book aloud is a real treat for everyone. The cumulative tale invites the audience to read along as they learn how robins build their nests.

Lesson Idea: National School Library Standards for Learners: l.A.1. Learners display curiosity and initiative by formulating questions about a personal interest or a curricular topic. 

  • Before reading the story, ask children what questions they have about robins and their nests. Write the questions on chart paper.
  • Record answers as they are discovered in the story.
  • Visit and to read more about robin nests.

Fun Fact: Did you know 2018 is the “Year of the Bird”? The “Year of the Bird” celebrates a law that was passed 100 years ago to protects birds. Visit to learn how you can do one thing a month to make a difference.

Mentioned Websites:

American Birding Association (

Audobon (

Journey North (

National Geographic (

NatureWorks ( (

Washington NatureMapping Program (


Author: Maureen Schlosser

Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades and Social and Emotional Learning for Picture Book Readers published by ALA Editions
Skillshare Teacher:

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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