Our first unit study this year focuses on birds. It's a great subject for Tom, because he's always been fascinated by owls, penguins, puffins... and he really enjoys watching birds, even in his own backyard. I've also been amazed at how well he can identify bird calls. I looked for a unit study on birds and found quite a few - but none seemed to include all the elements we wanted. One of the best, though, is the Konos bird unit - which includes some great activity ideas along with one hands-on item: an owl pellet for dissection!
To start out with, though, we decided to read The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. It's a wonderful classic, and is terrific for vocabulary, narrative and character. What's more (and I had forgotten this), the protagonist, Sam Beaver, is surprisingly similar to Tom in many ways.
Having read the first few chapters of the book, in which Sam is sitting quietly on a rock with his field glasses, watching the swans swim around a pond, we went for a nature hike. The idea was just to enjoy the lovely weather and collect a few feathers.
Well, here is Tom - sitting on a rock, using his binoculars, and watching a swan on the lake! Turned out there were actually THREE swans on this little lake... amazing!