This is an exhibit at the Ward Museum where kids can stand on a stool to measure their wingspan compared to many other birds.

This is an exhibit at the Ward Museum where kids can measure their wingspan compared to various birds.

This week I took the Flying Wild educators training course at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art. The Maryland Park Service and Maryland Coastal Bays along with the Ward Museum are city partners in bringing this program to the Mid-Atlantic region.  Flying Wild is kin to the Project Wild and Project Wet programs–basically, these are resources to help educators by providing them with games and activities that are able to fit into lesson plans incorporating math, science, and writing.

Flying Wild is specifically focused on birds and birding. The book even has all you need to know to put on a birding festival in a school.  The games we played were very creative.  One was Design a Bird. We were given balloons and pipe cleaners and colored paper and other crafty ingredients to build a bird.   Once we designed the bird we were told to describe its habits and where it lives, what it eats, and its behavior.  It was a fun way to think about all aspects of bird biology.

The girls from Assateague National Seashore designed an anklebiter bird that frequents visitor centers, eats dead skin cells and lint, and has very large broods because the offspring are always getting stepped on by visitors. The call for their bird was the sound of chimes just like one hears upon entering a visitor center.  Funny!

One of the other activities was a migration flyway game where you are the bird migrating. You picked a bird species to be, then rolled a giant foam die to move ahead along laminated papers–a giant board game! Along the way you might run into obstacles such as tall glass buildings. If you collided with one, you hurt your head and had to count to 45 before moving again. You might get caught in a bander’s mist net, where you would wait to get an orange plastic band before advancing.  Many of my fellow travelers were eaten by cats or shot by BB guns.

There were also fantastic feeding spots to help the weary travelers reach their hoped-for destination.  At the end we discussed who made it and who didn’t and why. I was a horned grebe and I made it alive to my breeding grounds. I felt it was a fun, effective way to help kids understand the perils of migration. Then there was a birding Jeopardy game. It was amazing how competitive we all were.

When  you complete the course you receive a manual to take home as well as a disc of all the printouts from the book.  This is a cool new addition because no matter how hard you try to get a good copy out of the book on the copy machine it never is perfect. With all the pages on disc all you do is print and copy. Technology is grand.

I am very excited to hold my first educator training course. Helping kids think about birds is one of my passions–the Flying Wild program makes a bit easier and more fun.

Steroscopic Vision Game

Bird versus Human Vision Game