Birds' Beaks





Title: Birds' Beaks
(Note: This is a one day lesson designed for Mrs. Carralís 2nd Grade Bilingual class at Grant Elementary School, Trenton, NJ.)

Goal for Students:
The students will identify certain body parts of different animals.  The students will also explain how the animalís body parts help it to capture food.  As a class, the students will make a chart to compare three animals and how they use their body parts to get their food.  The students will also infer what type and size of food a bird eats by the shape of its beak.  In addition, students will pretend to eat like a bird by using various tools that mimic the shape of a birdís beak (e.g. tweezers and a slotted spoon).


bulletthe students will identify different types of animals and the body parts used to capture and eat food/prey
bulletthe students will compare and contrast using different sized/types of beaks to pick up various types of food
bulletthe students will be able to explain in their own words in their science journals which beak worked best for each type of food and why they think that beak worked the best

Materials needed:
Slotted spoons,
Packing Peanuts,
Science notebook

    To begin this lesson, we will ask the students to close their eyes and imagine being a bird that is searching for food.  We will then ask: What would you eat?  How would you eat it?  Would you grab it with your mouth/beak or would you grab it with your claws?  The students will then open their eyes and discuss what they saw, ate, and how they ate their food.
    During the next part of our lesson, we will divide the class in four groups and have them go to their designated stations.  (Each group will have either 4 or 5 students.)  First, the students will examine the tools and food at each station and hypothesize in their science journal (and verbally with other group members) which mouth they think will work best for picking up which kind of food.  Next, at each station, the students will pretend each tool (the slotted spoon and tweezers) is a birdís mouth and the peanuts and rice are bird food.  The students will then take turns within their groups trying with each tool to pick up a piece of food.  They will record in their science journal what tool worked best for what type of food.  Next, as a class, we will verbally discuss if the shape of a birdís beak determines the type of food that bird eats.  Students will then take out their science textbook and turn to page A26 to see examples of birds and various types of beaks.
    On page A28, the students will see pictures of different animals and the different types of body parts they use to capture food.  We will ask them to identify the body parts that help animals capture food.  We will then make a chart on the board that lists several different animals and identifies the body parts they use to get their food.  Lastly, we will recap and review/ask what was learned during this lesson.  We will also ask: What else are you interested in learning about animals?

We will review with the students how they were able to physically manipulate the simulated beaks to come up with their conclusions that birds with narrow or small beaks tend to eat smaller food/prey while birds with larger or wider beaks tend to eat bigger food/prey.  This will help the students to have a more concrete understanding of why the shape of a birdís beak can predict the type of food that bird will eat.  In addition, they will have more awareness of why animals are shaped differently and/or have different body structures.

We will assess the studentsí comprehension by checking over their recorded results.  If their recorded results look similar to the ones listed below, we will know that they understood this investigation.

Possible Science Journal Entry:
I think the tweezers will be able to pick up the rice just as the long narrow beak can pick up small food.  I think it would be very hard for the slotted spoon to pick up the rice just as a bird with a big beak would have trouble picking up small food.

Chart on Board:




Moorhen (bird)


Body Part that Aids in Capturing Food

Talons, or claws, on its feet

Long neck and long legs


Eight legs

Type of Food It Eats


Leaves at the tops of trees

Plants in water


Badders, William, et al. Science Discovery Works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.


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