Build a Nest

We humans, big and small, are enamored of birds. Birds amaze us with their ability to fly, captivating calls, aptitude as builders and remarkable methods for surviving winter. This Winter at Tinkergarten, we invite explorers to team up with friends and family to build a life-sized, human-sized nest large enough for everyone to fit inside—and to discover that when we work together as a team, we can persist and solve big problems! 

The Guide

Step 1: Watch the Nest For Explorers video lesson.

Hop into your Tinkergarten dashboard to watch the Nest For Explorers video lesson. Kids can watch how Meghan and other explorers use teamwork to build a nest, then get inspired to do their own nest play. 

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Step 2: Learn abut bird nests.

Take a walk and search for birds' nests in your local green space. We are big fans of wearing “Tinkergarten binoculars” (two toilet paper rolls taped together). What do you notice about the nests? What shape are the nests? How big are they? What materials did birds use to create them?

Step 3: Wonder and problem solve together.

Wonder together: Isn’t it amazing that little birds can create these wonderful homes just out of the objects in nature? Do you think we could make a nest big enough for us out of the objects here in our outdoor space? Ask questions and reflect on what you read and noticed in your walk to help form a plan.  What materials will we need? Where can we find them?

Step 4: Gather nest-building materials.

Gather sticks, grass, dried leaves and bits of things to use in the nest. Carry materials in your “beaks” (i.e. two hands near your mouth) to get closer to the bird’s experience. Tweet as much as you like.

Step 5: Start to build.

Once you have materials gathered, wonder together what shape the nest should be. Work as a team to create an outline of that shape on the ground using a piece of rope or twine. Then, keep adding sticks to the shape to create a thick outline. Wonder what kind of inside you’d want for the eggs. Gather soft and light materials and fill in the inside of the nest.

Step 6: Play bird!

Once the nest is complete, kids can enjoy playing mother bird, sitting on imaginary eggs. Or, kids can be the baby birds, chirping for their snack. With little modeling required, let the play, quite literally, take flight.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Building a nest using just the materials around us is a terrific problem-solving and engineering challenge for kids. Using teamwork as we build motivates us to overcome obstacles and accomplish our goals, an important part of persistence. Taking time to consider the needs and experiences of birds develops young children’s capacity for empathy. The very process of trying to envision and build something on a large scale together develops creative thinking and teamwork skills. Carrying sticks and other materials back and forth also makes for great transporting—a pattern of purposeful play exhibited by young children around the world. Finally, children learn a new pretend play scenario that they can use again and again, anywhere where there are sticks to round up into a nest.

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