SchoolFamily Voices

Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.

The Joy of “Hands-On” Learning

"Wouldn’t my students love this," I thought as three little hummingbirds were feeding from my outstretched hand. I could hear the tiny bird’s distinctive hum and see their rapidly beating wings. I felt their little feet on my hand. This happened while I was on vacation at Yosemite National Park in California.

This reinforced for me, the power of "hands-on" learning, and the wonder that everyone feels when experiencing something new! Nature is a powerful educational tool, and summer is a great time to experience its glory.

Here is an easy way your child can enjoy the magic of attracting summertime birds.

Below are the directions for two simple birdfeeders to make with your child. Hang them in your yard and watch the birds that they attract.

  • Have your child find a large pinecone. Run about a 24 inch piece of string or yarn through the top flaps of the cone. Knot tight, and loop to form a holder. Help him cover it with peanut butter then roll it in birdseed. Hang it from a nearby tree.
  • Take an empty, clean plastic liter bottle. Save the cap. Poke two holes, about half-way down, on each side of the bottle. Have her stick a large twig, all the way through, with the ends sticking out to create perches. Poke a few holes above the perch sites for feeding. Fill the bottle with birdseed. Put the cap on tight. Hang by securing string or yarn in the neck of the bottle, under the cap.

Encourage your child to draw simple pictures of the different birds observed. Help your child write a simple sentence describing their drawing. Staple the pictures together to make their own summertime bird book! It might come in handy for a "Show and Tell" or "What I Did This Summer" in the new school year!

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