Sorting task – birds

Subject: science

Topic: To find out why birds have different feet

Effect: Pupils will be able to find out what kind of birds live in certain areas

Problem for pupils: To connect birds-feet with certain areas

Bank of objects: pictures of birds in their natural surroundings with enlarged pictures of their feet on the photo and names

Age: 7 years, working in groups,  3 – 4 together

Sorting task: Children were asked to sort 18 pictures of different birds. No other instructions was given.

Process:  The first group had no idea how it was possible to sort those birds. The birds were different in color and size. They tried to sort by color but they considered that was not a good idea because the groups would be so many. They also talked about sorting them by names but didn‘t do it.  I listened to them talk but did not help them. After some frustration one boy pointed at the birds feet and at once everyone in the group started to work.  At this point the job became easy and the group sorted the pictures by their feet. When they finished the job one boy pointed at the birds beaks and said that birds with long legs also had long beaks.  I asked them if they knew why, they said that it was because the water was so deep and it would be difficult to find food in the bottom of the water if the beak was shorter. My questions led discussions that followed. I asked about other feet, why some birds had flippers and they answered that they were good for swimming. I asked more questions about feets and they gave the ,,right“ answers.

Second group acted differently. One boy pointed at the feet immediately, other boy and a girl talked about sorting by names, the same girl suggested to sort by size but in the end they choose to sort by beaks. We had a little discussion after they finished,  why birds have different beaks. One said it was because they were born with it, another said it was because some birds live at the ocean, some in the sky, some at the beach etc.  Then I asked them to sort in a different way. They started to sort by colors and had three groups but because most of the birds had more than one color (except the raven and the swan) they became confused but finished the job. When I asked them why one of the bird was in the group called white (it was as much white as black) one girl said it was because it was more white than black. When I asked them to sort again in a different way they had to think about it for some time and came to the conclusion to have two groups, one for birds with flippers and one for birds with different feet. We had the same discussion as the first group with same result.

In the third group there was one boy with ADHD and another with concentration difficulties and two girls. This group was very accurate in their sorting. They started with the feet and we had a good discussion about why the birds have different feet: „ They make you swim, they are good for sitting on branches, good for wade, good for hunting and good to see in high grass“. When I asked them to sort again the boys had lost interest but the girls sorted by names, same first letters in same group.


# Alexander Sokol 2014-10-18 15:00
Many thanks for such a detailed description, Klara.
Can you also share some of your 'feelings'? To what extent were you satisfied? What were you not happy about? If you could do something similar again, what would you have changed?
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