Lesson plan


Focus on wings as an animal adapation. Use paper airplanes to model how birds can steer with their wings.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Classification of Living Things, Biodiversity (1, 3)

Materials in the activities.


Birds fly. How?
They push air to make them move.
Air seems like nothing to us as we are heavy. Push air into your face - feel the particles in air brushing your skin as they hit it.
When a light bird pushes against air particles, they are small enough that the push makes them move.
And depending on which way they push, birds can make amazing maneuvers in the air.

Watch slow motion of birds flying https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qThIyj1mLfs.
(Also trailer for movie with Cornell lab of ornithology: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjQtRr4CKcc - 15 secs to 38 secs.)
Note: the shape of birds’ wings are different on the downstroke and the upstroke.
Watch how they adjust their wing and tail feathers to change their flight direction.

Split students into three groups for activity stations
Learn how to use a magnifier together, needed for one of the stations.

Flying station
(Make planes with students if time, otherwise have paper airplanes ready for use.)
Paper airplanes fly for the same reason that birds fly.
Fly a paper airplane - make it stay aloft as long as possible.
Fold the very back of the wings up (about 2cm fkap) - how does it fly? - should stay up for at least as long.
Fold the back of the wings down - should dive to the ground.
Fold one up and one down - one of them should twist.
Just as bending the paper changes the flight path, birds move their feathers to change their flight path.
Birds use muscles to move their feathers by tiny amounts and change their direction of flight.

Feathers station
Look and gently touch real chicken feathers.
Look at them with a magnifier to see details of their structure. (Optional: draw them.)
Sort them into types (wing, tail and body feathers).
Birds have several feather types, these and others.
They are shaped for their task - stiff for flying, fluffy for insulation.

Build birds station
Use the wings and tail pieces of the fins and wings activity.
Add wings and tails to a modelling clay body.
Make a bird like one in the drawings, or make up your own.
Many different shapes of bird wings - some for gliding, some for fast flying, some for long migrations.

Grades taught
Gr 1