Materials and curriculum for introducing children to birds
India is lucky to have an incredibly rich birdlife, with 13% of the world’s species of birds, thanks to an amazing diversity of habitats found in the subcontinent. The goal of this project is to get young people interested in and excited about birds, by creating high-quality print and online resources.
A learning programme on birds and nature
While birdwatching and bird photography as popular hobbies have grown rapidly in the last decade, relatively little material exists for young children to learn about and get excited by birdwatching. In this project, we plan to develop a variety of educational materials, test these in the field and in the classroom, and refine the material based on their feedback. Through birds, we also hope to encourage and facilitate a deeper connection with nature.The main objective of this effort will be to design and develop an educational “kit” or “curriculum” consisting or a set of interactive lessons or tutorials, each with a detailed teacher’s manual to guide the educator through a series of linked activities that flow into each other. The suggested activities would involve a set of educational aids – print material such as flashcards on common birds, a handy bird guide, posters for classroom display, as well as electronic resources such as videos and presentations highlighting interesting aspects of bird behaviour. These print and e-resources would also be available as standalone tools that can be used by nature groups conducting their own after-school programmes with children.
Set of flashcards on common birds
Our first set of material was a set of cards on common birds of India, which feature 40 common species, to introduce children to the wonderful world of birds. These are slightly larger than postcard size, and printed on thick paper to withstand rough usage.
Each card features a photograph of the species on the front, and interesting information about it on the back. The text has been kept to a minimum, focusing on icons to convey information on food, habitat and size. The cards also feature a trivia section, and can be used to play educational games in the classroom, by following instructions given in a separate card that is included with the set.
The flashcards set is available for purchase. Please click here for details. The set can be used for a lot more than simply identification! We've worked with a well-known wildlife studio to develop instructional videos (for facilitators, teachers, parents and children) on effective use of the flashcards as learning aids. The videos can be viewed at this link.
Handy pocket guides
As the beginner birdwatcher learns to identify more birds, there is often a need for a simple pocket guide that lists the common species of the region in a portable format that can be easily carried in the field. This is especially needed for children who may be confused by the comprehensive and often bulky field guides.
We have produced handy pocket guides to fill this need. The pocket guides fold into a size of 3.5" x 8.5", feature between 135-140 familiar birds, and are laminated for protection. The featured species have been divided into 5 categories based on habitat (eg. Wetland Birds) and Behaviour (eg. Ground-feeding Birds), with winter visitors marked separately. Illustrations of birds have been used with permission from "Birds of the Indian Subcontinent" by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp.
We now have several published versions of the pocket guides, including
- Birds of Peninsular India, for the southern states
- Birds of Spiti/Ladakh: being used by our High Altitude Programme in this region, and have been distributed to schools, monasteries and Govt offices.
- Birds of the Andaman & Nicobar islands, produced in collaboration with Andaman Avians Club, which conducts birdwatching and nature awareness sessions for schools and colleges.
- Birds of southern Western Ghats, produced for our Rainforest Restoration programme in Valparai.
All of these pocket guides are available for purchase. Please click here for details.
Pocket guides in regional languages
In the last few years, we have had several requests to produce area-specific pocket guides in regional languages. We now have several of these available - an English/Malayalam pocket guide to Birds of Kerala, produced in collaboration with WWF in Kerala; a Kannada/English pocket guide to Birds of Cauvery/MM Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, produced in collaboration with our Western Ghats programme (supported under the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme by IUCN); a Kannada/English pocket guide to birds of Karnataka, produced for Karnataka Ecotourism Board; a Tamil/English pocket guide to birds of Tamil Nadu, a Telugu/English pocket guide to birds of Andhra Pradesh, English/Hindi pocket guide to the birds of Madhya Pradesh and Kanha national park, a Marathi/English pocket guide to birds of Maharashtra, and most recently a Hindi/English pocket guide to birds of Uttarakhand. These pocket guides are distributed free of cost to schools, community members, social leaders and others in the project area. Limited number of copies may be purchased from our online store.
Instructional videos on use of our material
We worked with a well-known wildlife studio to develop instructional videos (for facilitators, teachers, parents and children) on effective use of our material as learning aids. The videos can be viewed at this link.
Training workshops for bird educators
In an attempt to leverage the vast number of amateur birdwatchers in the country, we started an effort last year to network enthusiasts who are interested in being bird and nature educators. An initial survey was undertaken to understand the constraints that birders face in engaging with children/schools, and the top two issues that emerged were lack of adequate material, and lack of appropriate training.
To address this gap, we designed a half-day programme called "How to be a birding buddy" which would provide the skills needed for taking birds to children, as well as the material (print and digital) required for it. So far we have conducted training workshops in Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Jammu, Mysore, Mumbai and Indore, in which over 200 people were trained and are beginning to use this training and our material in their outreach work with children. We have also conducted several workshops specifically for school teachers, some of them in collaboration with other organizations like Azim Premji Foundation and Agastya Foundation.