Sunday, February 19, 2012

Early Learning - Fun with Feathers

L and E are almost 31 months old.  Our Tot School theme today was "feathers".  I tried to incorporate a variety of activities that involved sensorial exploration, art, math, science, literature, physical play, and lots of fun.

We've done a lot of free-play with feathers already, so I focused more on the guided activities.  First we read the short story, Gertrude McFuzz by Doctor Seuss (it's in the Yertle the Turtle collection).  It's a great story about a bird who is not happy that she has only one feather in her tail and her friend has two, so she finds a way to grow more and more feathers and has to pay the consequences (fantastic lesson on jealousy).

I gave the girls some playdough and googly eyes for making birds, as well as some berries.  First their birds started out with one feather each, and then as we read the story and Gertrude ate the berries and grew more feathers, the girls added feathers to their birds (and then removed them as the feathers were plucked off).

The girls requested that we repeat the story/activity a couple times.  E loved her baby bird so much that she carried it around with her for the duration of our playtime:

We made nests for our birds out of some small baskets (3 for $1 at Target).  And inserted feathers through the holes in the basket to decorate the nests (awesome fine-motor activity).  Of course, no nest would be complete without some eggs:

Next we experimented with more properties of feathers and air resistance.  I challenged them to guess which will fall to the ground first, a ball or a feather:

Then the girls practiced both dropping and catching feathers with their hands as well as various containers.  Since the feathers fall fairly slowly, this was a wonderful exercise in hand-eye-coordination and catching skills. 

Then I showed the girls how to blow on their feathers through a straw, and we had races blowing our feathers all through the house:

To make cleaning up more fun, we sorted the feathers by color:

Then I posed the question: what will weight more, a bowl of feathers or a bowl of blocks?  Although the girls both knew the right answer, we wanted to test out our theory by giving it a try:

I took out the bucket scale, and we figured out that the blocks do indeed weigh more than the same volume of feathers, and that our bowl of feathers weighed 4 blocks (or 4 grams).  From that, we explored the unit blocks, played with the scale and did other non-feather-related activities.  I could think of many more things we could do with feathers (math games, patterning, etc..), but the time felt right to just let the girls explore on their own.

UPDATE: I was so inspired by how much my kids enjoyed early learning games that I created the La La Logic Critical Thinking Curriculum for 3-6 year olds, which includes online brain challenge games, printable worksheets, enrichment activities and more!

Tot School


  1. What creative fun you guys had! I love your feather science activities! Pinning this so I can remember to do it soon.

  2. Such great feather activities. I have done some of those, but some are new to me. Really like how you dropped them from a stool. I am pinning this. I am a new Pinterest follower visiting from No Time For Flashcards. Vicky from Mess For Less


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