For the last few years we have been introducing the kids to bird watching – as a child, it was something that I did regularly. I loved to add new birds to our list and even now I still add new ones. Last time we headed up to RSPB Minsmere, I was finally able to add the Bittern and Marsh Harrier to my list and the kids, 30+ years younger than me, did as well. Keeping that interest going is one of my goals as a parent, especially in the age of screens. Last week we explored the RSPB’s First Birds app out in the garden to see how screens and nature could combine in a way that I was happy with.
One thing my kids love is the opportunity to mark off the birds that they see in the garden, out on a walk, in the park or at the beach and although we have sticker books they tend to stay at home. My iPad or iPhone however usually comes along as I love taking pictures and it’s a really easy way to take them and edit them on the spot. The RSPB’s First Birds App, their first app for children has been produced in collaboration with Bloomsbury Publishing and Aimer Media is a great way to help with identifying the birds, recording what they see, providing opportunities for activities and learning more about birds within the UK.
Using the App Out and About
The app is aimed at kids between 4 and 8, which is perfect for my two as T is 5 and J is 7 and both are interested in nature and wildlife. So I left them to explore the app and they headed out to bird watch in our garden.
The garden is one of the sections on the app – although it also features 4 other habitats, the park, countryside, river and seaside, all great places to visit and explore with the kids. We decided to go local to see the types of bird that fly into our garden.
The kids headed out with the iPad and stood very still to observe what they could see. I always find watching the two of them interact with learning materials interesting; J is a confident advanced reader and loves to learn new facts and quickly was exploring the app learning more about the birds – he listened to bird calls as well as watched the in-app videos.
However, T is very much learning to read. She isn’t confident, but probably my favourite feature of the app is that even without being able to read she was able to get so much out of the app without me helping. Each description of bird on the information can be read aloud so children not at reading age can get as much out of the app as your older children that can. The symbols helped her add her spotted birds to the list, listen to the bird call in our garden and then play the bird calls of the common birds.
She spotted a woodpecker and quickly navigated to the video to learn more about these little garden visitors.
After exploring the garden they returned inside and continued using the app, wanting to discover birds you could see at the park and the seaside (both areas that we visit frequently) as well as try their hand at tracing the birds.
Kids today love screens and one of the problems that I see as a parent and as a teacher is that they are switched screens for nature. As a rule we use tech as tools at home and this app is a perfect example of how you can combine tech and screens with learning, nature and exploration. On the iPhone it’s your bird-watching guide in the pocket that the kids can use to explore the natural environment learn more about the common garden, park, river, country and seaside birds that they will see in the UK and record their ‘spottings’ over time.
In App Activities
The app isn’t just great for outdoors, we have enjoyed exploring the app when we return home too. T loves to look up more about the birds that we see. Having recently moved house to the countryside near the coast we’re seeing so many new birds to add to our list including some that aren’t yet in the app.
The fields around us are full of pheasants so T set about creating her own pheasant. First, she drew her version. We had looked and noticed they had two legs, lots of different colours of brown on them and a long tail.
Then we recorded the name of them as we didn’t hear them make a sound so we couldn’t pretend to be one.
Once you save it can then be added to your collage. So far out on our walks with the dog, we’ve seen and spotted a Magpie, Blue Tit and Kestrel as well as the pheasant.
RSPB My First Birds details
The RSPB My First Birds App can be downloaded for iPad or iPhone so you can use it whilst you are on the move. It costs £3.99 which helps towards the funding of the RSPB’s conservation work throughout the UK from iTunes and in my opinion, is a great way to use screens to connect with nature.
Included in the app are these fantastic highlights:
Add animated stickers to beautiful habitat scenes ? Name and draw your own bird ? Listen to the bird song of a robin ? Watch videos of the birds you’ve seen in your garden ? Carefully trace the outline of a bird ? Colour in bird drawings ? Keep a record of the birds you’ve spotted!
I loved how easy it was for my non-reader to use and she was able to learn as well as how my avid reader was able to discover more and learn more from the app as well.
Win your own Bird Watching Book Set for Kids
We would love to see you and your kids out bird watching using the app just like J and T and as a little incentive to get you on your way to even more fun in nature we have a book bundle worth £45 for you to win.
The included books are all published by Bloomsbury in association with the RSPB and form part of our bird watching and nature essentials.-
- RSPB My First Birds and Wildlife Activity and Sticker Book – help your child to identify common birds and record those that they have spotted with this first birds book.
- Born to be Wild: Hundreds of Nature Activities for Families a 2016 publication full of simple free activities for you and your children to do together to help connect with nature.
- Mike Dilger’s Wildlife in Your Garden discover more than just the birds in your back garden or the local park with this guide for kids to the wildlife in the gardens of the UK
- RSPB Bird Encyclopedia discover more about birds with this wonderful encyclopedia full of fascinating facts and beautiful pictures. Discover parrots, penguins and condors as well as some of the more common garden birds.
- These are all part of our nature book collection and I would recommend them for families to have on hand for reference.
To enter head over to Rainy Day Mum Facebook Page and the pinned post and simply add an image to the comments of your children using the app to bird watch.
Terms and Conditions:-
- The competition is only open to UK residents
- Entries must be posted in the comments of the pinned thread on Rainy Day Mum by November 30th, 2016, comments will be closed at this point
- Only 1 entry per person
- Winner will be drawn on December 1st, 2016 and notified on the comment thread
This is a sponsored post on behalf of Bloomsbury Publishing and Aimer Media
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Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.