Monday, July 7, 2014

Susan Hollyday Takes Discover Birds Activity Books to Cuba!

Susan Hollyday, a member of the Nashville chapter of TOS, traveled to Cuba recently with the Road Scholar Program (formerly Elderhostel) on a People to People two week tour to learn about many aspects of the Cuban culture.
Susan writes:  "It was suggested that we might like to bring gifts for some of the folks along the way. From the itinerary, I noticed we would be visiting an elementary school where the children were studying English. I then decided to carry a dozen Discover Birds Activity Books and several Teachers Curriculum Guides with me.  My 37 year old Cuban guide was delighted.  This was a first and he was very pleased to have me share the booklets with the school."
Susan visited the San Eugene of Mazenod Elementary School.   "I presented their teacher, Ms. Rodriguez, with several Discover Birds Activity Books. I also gave her several copies of the Teacher’s Guide. Ms. Rodriguez...was especially happy to have new material to present to her students. Supplies are scarce in Cuba.  The activity books are the perfect grade level, with a format similar to the workbooks they are using. Many of the birds in Cuba are the same as the birds in Tennessee which appear in the Discover Birds Activity Book. Perhaps we share some migrants!  This should make the booklets even more meaningful, if the children see the birds in the books in their own neighborhoods. Of course, they will be more aware of birds and possibly other things in nature."
Susan reports that she recently sent more booklets, pencils, and sharpeners to the elementary school and included several copies of the Teachers Curriculum Guide.

"I hope the mail works!  In my dreams I see a young English speaking Cuban leading a group of American birders on an eco-tour of this beautiful country. Who knows what seeds may be planted?"

Visit the Tennessee Ornithological Society's education page to learn more about the Discover Birds Program.  You will also find an online pdf of the Discover Birds Activity Book that can be downloaded and printed and a copy of the Teacher's Curriculum Guide.

For information about obtaining printed books, contact Cyndi Routledge at  For more information about the Discover Birds Program contact Billie Cantwell at or Cyndi Routledge at

Links and Resources:
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Discover Birds Program
Nashville Chapter of TOS
Tennessee Ornithological Society

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Discover Birds Program Visits Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge!

Nova Clark is an education specialist and ranger at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, Louisiana. 
During a google search for Whooping Cranes, she ran across my blog, Vickie Henderson Art, and found the Discover Birds Activity Book and information about contacting Cyndi Routledge, in Clarksville, Tennessee, the Discover Birds Activity Book volunteer coordinator.  Cyndi arranged for the Black Bayou Lake summer camp to receive 30 books that were donated by the Nashville Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.
This Black Bayou camp session shown here was a week-long session for 3rd to 5th grade students who participated in nature walks, fishing, boating and a range of out-door activities that helped them learn more about nature.
Students completed activities in the Discover Birds book and took walks to find birds and learn about their habitat.  
A bird beak learning experience is shown above.

In her recent email Nova describes the student experiences:  
"The camp is a nature camp that runs for 3.5 hours each day for a week and we cover all kinds of nature topics, just to get kids more familiar with the outdoors. This week it is for kids who have completed the 3-5th grades in school.  We have been using the books as well as going outside and taking nature walks which also includes looking for birds and learning about habitat.  So we have looked for nests, talked about adaptations, played the migration game [Migration Mad Lib on pg 19 of the book], and had a bird-beak challenge. " 
Above, students use utensils to represent different bird beaks and try to pick up food items to demonstrate how different beaks work best with different foods.

Photo credit:  Cyndi Routledge                                             Prothonotary Warbler

Nova continues:  "We also have a challenge trail which includes two bird stations, one of of which is standing on one leg like a heron the other flapping like a hummingbird.  We will be fishing tomorrow and talk about our fishing birds. Still hoping to actually see a Prothonatory Warbler on the trail, always a challenge since we hear them but they are good at hiding from us!"
Above, camp students work exercises in their activity books after spending time finding birds in nature.

The Discover Birds Activity Book is published by the Tennessee Ornithological Society and distributed free to teacher classrooms and non-profit organizations that provide out-door activities to help students learn about birds and their environment.   The book is designed to continue the learning and excitement that students experience when they discover birds in their natural world.

A special thank you to Nova Clark for her inquiry about the book and for providing the above images and description of the camp program at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge!  Thanks also to Cyndi Routledge and the Nashville Chapter of TOS for their generous donation of books!

Our goal:  To give students an exciting experience that will spark their interest in birds for a life-time!

Discover Birds Program
Discover Birds Activity Book
Discover Birds Curriculum Guide
Nashville Chapter of TOS
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