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How the birds got their colours

How the birds got their colours
  • Author: Mary Albert | Age: 3+ years

With our book recommendations, we want to spark children’s curiosity in discovering STEM in their everyday lives. Most books go beyond the obvious STEM connections and can be a great starting point for exploring children’s questions and ideas further.

This Dreaming story is a wonderful way to inspire conversations and deeper understandings of First Nations culture and practice. Author Mary Albert from the Bardi tribe was told this story by her mother when she was a young girl. In this book, the words have been brought to life with bold colourful children’s paintings.

Book summary:

In a world where “all the birds were black”, a dove becomes injured while feeding. Many of its bird friends try to help. One of these is the parrot who uses its beak to burst open the dove’s swollen foot.. suddenly splashes of colour cover the birds! No longer black, the birds’ feathers are now a wide range of colours and patterns. All except for the crow. Because the crow hadn’t helped the dove, the crow receives “no colour at all”.

Sparking the STEM Suggestions:

💥 Invite your children to sit in a circle to enjoy every page.

💥 Stop on each page and provide space for children to ask questions, share knowledge, and offer their hypotheses.

💥 Invite children to experiment with different materials to create their own depiction of the something in the book.

💥 Use paint to explore how colours can be mixed to form new colours. Ask the children about what they observe and what hypotheses they form.

💥 Invite children to observe what birds visit your service. Then extend this by supporting the children to research and identify what kind of bird(s) they are and their specific characteristics and habits. (Refrain from Googling this, instead focus on process and learning).

💥 Invite children to observe the colours they can see in nature at your service. What colours can’t they see? Invite the children to ask questions and form their own hypotheses.

As you can see, a simple activity like reading a book can lead to countless STEM explorations, a number of which could spark an inquiry-based STEM project led by the children in your service.

What is an inquiry-based STEM project?

An inquiry-based STEM project is designed with a specific objective of finding something out e.g. “Can wattle seeds grow in space?”. This is very different to an open-ended activity like “Exploring gravity.” A project should build upon the interests of children and stem from their questions and observations. It should engage with a topic over several weeks or months so that children can explore hypotheses with ample time for discovery and reflection. You can read more about inquiry-based projects here. We also recommend this summary of an excellent inquiry-project called “Can we Save Humpty Dumpty?” by GlassHouse Early Education Centre in QLD.

Developing an inquiry-based STEM project is a key component of:

  • Certifying your service as a Little Scientists House, the only STEM certification program for early learning services. Becoming a Little Scientists House allows you to showcase to the community that your service is committed to best practice in early inquiry-based STEM education. Learn more here.

Develop your STEM skills with our pedagogy-based STEM PD:

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