Monday, April 12, 2010

Unit Study: For the Birds!

Well, spring has definitely sprung around here with gorgeous blue skies and 72-degree days!  For our first day back after Easter break, we are starting a new cross-curriculum unit on Birds.  Today we started with learning about the consummate bird naturalist ...

John James Audubon (1785-1851)

We started our study by reading two picture-book biographies that are excellent introductions to this amazing man: 
  • Jacqueline Davies' The Boy Who Drew Birds is a great overview of Audubon's first interests in birds just after arriving in America from France and how he satisfied his curiousity through research and field work
  • Jennifer Armstrong's Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier starts later in Audubon's life when he is already starting his quest to paint all the birds of North America.  The illustrations in this one are amazing (done by Jos. A. Smith, a professor of fine arts at Pratt Institute in NY) as are the end notes that the author and illustrated wrote.
We also pulled out our copy of the Audubon's Birds of America so the kids could see the product of Audubon's talents.  I've got a collection of Audubon's own journals, John James Audubon: Writings and Drawings, coming from Amazon later this week so that we can read about his work in his own words. 

As we develop this unit and see where the trails take us ... we'll post the info here.  I want to end up with a big cross-curriculum unit that will end our formal school-year with a fun and active (and outdoorsy!) project. 

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