Sunday, April 19, 2009


I think it was November. Arielle stopped being a girl and turned into a bird - a Rainbow Cockatoo, to be exact. Rainbow Cockatoo's are an imaginary species. They are very rare and are the only cockatoos in the Northern Hemisphere. Most live in Australia.

Arielle has always had an imagination. But, six months later, she is still a bird. I've been trained to refer to her hair as her "feathers" and to tooth-brushing as "beak-brushing". When I ask what she'd like for dinner, she asks for "worms and grubs", so I'm creative with food names. Spaghetti is now "juicy worms".

So, we've been growing our imaginations. But, we've also been learning. In January, we took a trip to Ottawa, where we visited the Canadian Museum of Nature. The museum was being remodeled, but they have a wonderful bird exhibit complete with a tiny lab where children can pretend to be ornithologists (scientists who study birds). Arielle was thrilled. Now she is determined that when she grows up she will be a bird scientist.

Pictures from the museum

When we left the museum, we bought a bird book. This sparked an interest in bird identification. We put up bird feeders in our trees and bought some identification guides. Grandma gave Arielle a pair of binoculars.

When the weather turned warmer, we saw new birds every day. We bought a CD to teach us about bird songs and listened to it in the car. We built a bird house.

And we didn't stop there. Cockatoos are common in Australia, so Arielle wanted to learn about Australia. We found Australia on the globe. We cut out pictures of Australian animals - there are lots at - and we decorated our geography area. Arielle practiced writing the names of Australian birds and animals in her notebook. We learned about Aboriginal art and decorated homemade rain sticks. We got stories from the library and from Amazon and learned about Aboriginal myth and about animals.

I have learned a lot, too. Even two-year-old Linnea can identify robins and starlings. Arielle's interest shows no signs of waning and it is both fun and a challenge to find new ways to direct her curiosity and eagerness to learn. Here she is painting an outline of a bird that I drew for her - a homemade coloring book of sorts. The bright water colors and heavy duty paper are from Stubby Pencil, of course.

And here she is playing pet store... finding good homes for those birds and also a chance to learn about money.

Taking advantage of your child's interests seems like such a natural and fun way to learn, doesn't it? There is such a fine line between learning and play, and there are so many more things we can and will learn as long as she is interested.


The Toy Snob said...

OMGosh! You are such a good mom! That is so great you have been able to expand her love of birds into wonderful learning opportunities. Have you seen the birds from Blabla? They would be great to add to her collection. Wonderful post!

Sara said...

Thank you, Snobby. I did see them and am keeping them in mind for her birthday. Moolka also has some really neat paper birds that I'd love for her to try.
She is a funny girl.