GUIDED TRIP FOR PRESCHOOLERS
by Henry Calilung
“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” So says a Native American proverb. I was given a chance to once again see this in action last February 15, 2017 when the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines got a call from a preschool teacher in Miriam College. They requested the club to conduct a bird watching activity for their class of 4 to 5 year-olds. After much schedule adjustments, this activity pushed through with me representing the WBCP and was joined by Mr. Jeremiah Vallar, a Grade 11 student under the Teacher Training and Development track of the Holistic Education and Development Center or HEDCen.
We were asked to facilitate a class of 60 students divided into morning and afternoon sessions. Three preschool teachers assisted us during the sessions which consisted of a 30-minute in-class activity handled by Jeremiah and a one-hour bird watching activity handled by yours truly. Jeremiah showed three videos: a Yellow-vented Bulbul eating a fig; a Northern Cardinal eating a grasshopper; and a Grass Owl eating a mouse. These videos helped him discuss the ecological importance of birds in maintaining the vigor of terrestrial ecosystems. Jeremiah concluded his in-class activity with a game in which the students would be given pictures (bird, fruit, tree) and then asked to group themselves into chains showing the correct sequence (bird eats the fruit, bird poops, tree grows). The game was accompanied with plenty of play-acting to make it interesting- the cutest of which was the students pretending to poop!
The bird watching activity was done just outside their classroom. The WBCP lent several of the smaller binoculars for this. While only a few of them got to actually use the bins (motor-coordination at that age is still not at par to the task of focusing the bins), everyone had a go at observing some birds using the scope. The wide-eyed preschoolers got a kick out of seeing some Eurasian Tree Sparrows preening their feathers or pecking at the grass really up-close. We even collected Narra seeds which were abundant in their school yard. The Preschool teachers were amazed to find out that they actually had several adult individuals of our National Tree right in their backyard and agreed to conduct follow-up lessons on this.
We ended each session by gathering the children once more in their classrooms. I discussed with them the importance of appreciating birds in their natural habitat without any form of interference from us. One of them asked about keeping birds as pets. I told them that wild birds are meant to be wild and caging them would only make them sad and would prevent them from playing out their role in the environment. Hopefully, the day’s lessons would create a lasting impression on these young minds about the role each one of us plays in making sure that there will still be an Earth for our young ones to inherit.
Reaction from Jeremiah Vallar:
“At first, I was very overwhelmed by the energy of the kids, but they were easy to engage. I found their interest in birds motivating. I saw that they could learn whatever they put their minds to. Seeing them made me hopeful. I look forward to seeing some of them grow to become the future of bird conservation here in the Philippines.”