Birds of a Feather: A Storytime About Birds

We’ve had so many birds flying around for the past few weeks that I wanted to do a storytime in honor of the Great Backyard Bird Count (February 17-20), but with a focus on nonfiction, in honor of National Science Day on February 28.

I love nonfiction picture books, but don’t usually get to read them at storytime, since they tend to be geared towards older kids. Luckily, there are some fairly simple books about birds, eggs, and nests that worked really well for our storytime families, especially since the schools are out this week, and we had some older siblings in attendance.

Here’s what we did:


Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward and Steve Jenkins

Short rhymes describe the nests of a wide range of birds (woodpeckers, flamingos, hummingbirds, etc.), with large illustrations of each one. This book was longer than the ones I typically read for my storytime audience, but the families really seemed intrigued by all of the different types of nests, especially the cowbird (who lays its eggs in other birds’ nests) and the hornbill (who gets sealed inside a hollow tree with her eggs until they hatch).

Tiny Dino by Deborah Freedman

When a hummingbird insists that he is a “tiny dino,” the other animals don’t believe him. But he gives several arguments to prove that birds share many characteristics with dinosaurs, including scales, hollow bones, and feathers. Claire read the part of the hummingbird, and I read the other animals. A cute way to use a story (and beautiful illustrations) to explain the connection between dinosaurs and birds.

An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston; illustrated by Sylvia Long

This book, describing the different colors, textures, and shapes of different types of eggs, is absolutely stunning, and includes a wide variety of birds, as well as turtles, and insects. Before we read the book, we gave each child a plastic egg with a picture of a local bird inside (see file below. It’s a double-sided document with a picture of the adult bird on one side, and the egg and nest on the other). As I read, I asked the kids about the shape and texture of their plastic eggs.


Two Little Blackbirds

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, (Hold up both thumbs)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one thumb behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other thumb behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first thumb out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second thumb out in the front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow.
One flew fast!
And the other flew slow!…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

This Is the Way We Flap Our Wings

To the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. I told the kids we were going to pretend to be birds, and then we sang the song, acting out the different motions. I asked the families to suggest things that birds do. We ended up pecking the ground, standing on one foot, swimming around (we talked about the types of birds that swim, like ducks and penguins), and shaking our tails.

This is the way we flap our wings,

Flap our wings, flap our wings,

This is the way we flap our wings,

All day long!

This is the way we peck the ground… (peck ground with your fingers in a “beak” shape)

We Bounce and We Bounce

I was originally planning to sing Six Little Ducks, but it was so chilly at the park that I did this one instead, just to give the kids a chance to move around. This is one of my very favorite storytime songs, and the kids love it. I like to do different motions for each verse, and vary the speed as we go.


We bounce and we bounce and we stop!


We bounce and we bounce and we stop!


We bounce and we bounce and we bounce and we bounce,

C                                          G7                       C

And we bounce and we bounce and we stop!

We clap and we clap and we stop!…

We run and we run and we stop!…

We lean and we lean and we stop!…

I’m a Little Bird

To the tune of I’m a Little Teapot:

I’m a little bird inside an egg, (crouch down into a ball)

Here is my head (point to your head)

And here is my leg (point to your leg).

While I’m in the egg, I’ll grow and sleep (close your eyes),

Then I’ll POP right out (jump up)

And go, “Peep! Peep! Peep!”

When the Red, Red, Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along by Harry Woods

This is an old song from 1926 that my Dad sang a lot when I was a kid. Here’s the version sung by Bing Crosby:

When the [C] red, red robin comes
[G7] Bob, bob, bobbin’ [C] along, along.
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when
[G7] He starts throbbin’ his [C] old sweet [C7] song:

[F] Wake up, wake up you sleepy head!
[C] Get up, get up get out of bed!
[D7] Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red!
[G7] Live, love, laugh and be happy.

[C] What if I’ve been [G7] blue,
Now I’m walking through
[C] Fields of flowers.
Rain may glisten but
Still I [G7] listen for [C] hours and [C7] hours.
[F] I’m just a kid again [Fm6] doing what I did again,
[C] Singing a [Am] song.
When the [C] red, red robin comes
[G7] Bob, bob, bobbin’ a-[C]long.

Stay & Play: Paper Bowl Nests

This was a fun tie-in with the plastic eggs we handed out earlier in the storytime.

Before storytime, I shredded brown construction paper in our library shredder. For the Stay & Play, I put out paper bowls for each kid, along with bowls full of the shredded paper, glue sticks, and feathers. The kids had fun putting glue all around the bowl, and lining their nests with the shredded paper, feathers, and also some leaves and grasses from around the park. They put their plastic eggs in their nests at the end.

What are your favorite nonfiction books for younger kids? Please share them in the comments below.


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