Birds and People Have What in Common?

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Students will be able to compare and contrast physical features based on information they have read.

Big Idea

Students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the physical features of two different animals.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students we are going to visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology webpage to learn about yet another Maryland Symbol.   

“Boys and girls ornithology is the study of birds so what do you think today’s Maryland symbol will be?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond.

“That’s right Ava; we are going to learn about the Maryland state bird. Does anyone want to take a guess as to which bird is the Maryland state bird?”

I select another student to respond.

“You are absolutely right Brennan; the Maryland state bird is the Baltimore Oriole. How did you know that?”

I listen to his response.

“There you go the state of Maryland’s baseball team is named the Baltimore Orioles and so is the state bird.”

“Let’s go ahead and watch our little video clip to find out some information about our state bird.”

After we have watched the short 2 minute video clip I ask, “What physical features make the Baltimore Oriole part of the bird family?”

I select enough students to respond to cover the physical attributes which make a bird part of the bird family.

“You are all good scientists. Birds do have wings, they lay eggs, they are covered with feathers and they have hollow bones.”

“Now just because birds have wings does that mean all birds can fly?”

I allow the students to call out the response, “No!”

“You are absolutely right: not all birds can fly.”

“Not all birds are good nest builders either. In this book we are going to hear about some different ways birds build nests.”


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called The Best Nest, written by Doris L. Mueller and illustrated by Sherry Neidigh. Believe it or not listening is a very important skill to have. In today’s story you will see one very good listener and several not so good listeners.”


During reading we stop and discuss which birds are using good listening skills and which are not. We also discuss some of the Maryland birds we know and introduce others.  


When the book is over I set it to the side and ask, “Can anyone give me a brief summary of what the book was about?”

I select a student to respond.

“Good summary Kallee. There was one very good nest builder and everyone did want to learn how to build a nest just like the Magpie. But not all the birds listened and so their nests are not as good. Only the Baltimore Oriole listened to the whole lesson so they have a very good nest.”

“Boys and girls do we live in nests?”

I allow the students to call out the response, “No!”

“Your right we do not. Do we lay eggs like birds?”

Once again I allow the students to call out their response, “No!”

“Right again. Here is a tricky question for you. Think about the Baltimore Oriole and think about us. What are some things we DO have in common?”

I select a few students to respond.

“Those were all great response. We both have legs, we both have skin, we both have eyes and we both have bones.”

“Today at one of work stations you are going to see a recording sheet that looks like this one (I hold one up for the students to see). Can anyone tell me what this type of tool this called?”

Bird Human Comparison Recording Sheet

I select a student to respond.

“That’s right Max; this is a Venn diagram. Who can tell me what we use a Venn diagram for?”

I select another student to respond.

“Well done Jill; we use this tool to compare and contrast things. I am very impressed that you remembered that.”

“You will be comparing and contrasting two things you know well from books we have read and videos we have watched.’

“In this section you will put all the features you know to be true about birds. In this section you will put all the features you know to be true about us. In this final section you will put all the features we share with birds.”

“You need at least three facts in each section.”

“There will be books at the table to help you with any features you may have forgotten and to help with writing the words. What other resources can I use?”

I select enough students to cover the resources available for the students.

“Great job everyone. We can use our friends, we can use the books and we can use the teacher at the table.”

“I will be using a check list to see if you followed the directions we have been given. Can anyone tell me the directions you have heard today?”

I select enough students to respond to recall the directions I have given.

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some Venn diagram fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students comparing bird person comparisons.

Student working on bird person comparison Venn diagram.



I believe it is very important for students to learn how to compare and contrast two or more items effectively. Comparing and contrasting items is a step towards learning how to compare more abstract concepts such as answers to questions and solutions to problems. For example, there is more than one way to solve a math story problem – you just have to find the one that makes the best sense to you by comparing strategies. Later this skill becomes relevant when you have to solve environmental issues such as the plight of the Monarchs. Tourism helps the village economy, but it harms some of the Monarchs winter over territory. How do we solve this problem? We have to compare and contrast the pros and cons by looking at both sides which then helps us make the best possible choice. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Student sample bird and person comparison. 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me which family the animal I hold up belongs to.

“Today I am going to hold up an animal picture card and it will be your job to tell me which family the animal belongs too. For example, if I hold up this animal here (I hold up a random animal card) I just need to say “reptile” because that is the family it belongs to.”

“I have plenty of animal cards here and you just sorted many of them with your group on the rug so you should be very familiar with the animal families. Just in case you have forgotten I will put the animal family name cards up here for you to see (I place the cards along the front of the rug so the students can clearly see them).”

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her animal’s family they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with the animal family together.


Using this easy formative assessment tool gives me an opportunity to see if a student can quickly recall the skill they just used to complete the activity. They have just practiced sorting a variety of different animals and now I want to see if they can recall an animal and the family it belongs to. If a student does have a hard time coming up with a response I will take note because I need to find out if the student had difficulty because he/she has trouble transferring skill use from one activity to another or perhaps he/she was copying peer work at the table and does not have the skill themselves. Knowing the answer to this question will determine how I handle the situation. 


I use the Bird Person Comparison checklist to go over the student’s work and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objective of the assignment. I am looking to see if a student was able to distinguish between human and bird physical features and put them in the correct section of the Venn diagram. I am looking to see if the student had 3 to 5 in each section of the Venn diagram and made an attempt to write the word either phonetically or use the books as a resource.  

The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student has met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve. 


Make a Baltimore Oriole bird using black sand and orange glitter. Then the student had to write one bird family fact on the paper.

Students working on Baltimore Oriole.

Labeling information on the bird..


Sort a variety of animal cards into the right family circle. Then the student had to select five of their favorite animals, write down the animal name from the back of the card into their science journal and next to it write which animal family the card came from. 

Circles on the rug for the categorizing activity.

Students sorting animals into family groups.

Group of students categorizing animals.

Student selecting and recording five favorite animals.

Student using the card as a resource.


Students are able to work on the SMARTBoard sorting different animals into the correct family group during free choice center time. This helps reinforce the lesson done earlier in the day. 

Student working on the SMARTBoard sorting animals.