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  • Writer's pictureKeith

Weekly Activities - Making a Bird's Nest

Book of the week

Bird Builds a Nest by Martin Jenkins.


Bird is building her nest. She pushes and pulls twigs into place until she's made a cosy cup, ready and waiting ... can you guess what for? This beautiful picture book is the perfect introduction to forces and the concept of pushing and pulling.

Weekly Activities

To make our bird's nests we used air drying clay or wet mud, twigs, dried leaves, wool and even petals in some cases. We read our book of the week as basecamp about building a nest and talked about the following: counting sticks as we went along; measuring and putting the sticks and materials into order; the types of different birds that use open nests and we asked the children to use their imagination to see what it is like to be a bird making a nest. Before starting to build our nests we went on a nature walk to look for some real nests high up in the trees (and we spotted several!).

After giving the children some clay or mud, we asked them to shape their nests into a round bowl. Some of the children used a rolling pin to flatten their clay into a rough disc before moulding the sides into shape. Others made a thumb pot by pushing their thumb into the centre of the clay and using their fingers to mould it into shape. They added the natural materials as they went along to bond them to the nest. Once the nests were finished, we left them out in the air to dry hard.

Aims and Objectives

  • To deepen the understanding of birds and their nests

  • To create a bird's nest that they can take home or place at Forest School

  • To experience what it may be like to be a bird building its nest

  • To deepen our understanding of forces - pushing, pulling, twisting etc

Home Activity

Forces make things move, change shape and balance. They are associated with the movements of pushing, pulling and twisting and affect every aspect of our daily life - opening doors, getting dressed, even standing still.

Working with clay activity

This activity gives you the opportunity to look at pushing and pulling, changing shape and using simple machines.

What you need

Large lump of clay; utensils such as a rolling pin, a garlic press or potato dicer, cutters, lolly sticks, spatulas or clay-working tools.

What to do

  • Encourage the children to explore the clay with their hands. You may want to let them investigate the large lump of clay before dividing it up into individual portions.

  • Help the children to divide the large lump. Talk about the pushing, pulling and twisting that happens as you tear off pieces of clay.

  • Let the children explore what they can do with the clay - pulling it, pushing it, squeezing, squashing and rolling it. What happens when you pull the clay? What happens when you press hard into the clay? What happens if you push gently? How can you make your piece of clay longer?

  • Show the children how to make a 'thumb pot' by pushing, pulling and twisting a small lump of clay using their thumbs. Talk with the children about what they are doing to change the shape of the clay.

  • Introduce the tools and simple machines and talk about how they might work and what they might do.

  • Encourage the children to investigate how they can use the tools to change the shape of the clay.

  • Draw their attention to how the tools use pushes, pulls and twists to roll, flatten, squash, squeeze, cut and scrape the clay. Which tools work by pushing them? Which ones do you pull or twist? Is it easier to change the shape of the clay with a rolling pin or with your hands?

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