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Birds

The Multimedia Bird Book by Workman Swifte is an interactive CD-ROM geared toward students ages six to twelve. The scenario in the CD is that the user is a photojournalist responsible for photographing birds for issues of a new newsletter, The Birder. There are 60 plus birds which the user may spot in a variety of habitats as they fly across the screen. Once in the habitat, there are "distractions" of on-screen activities that one can play with. Click on trees to make them bloom, a barn to see and hear a cow, etc. The user needs to be alert to watch for the icon to change to a camera. Then capture the bird with a click of the mouse.

There are auditory "clues" which are available when clicking on a cassette player icon. These are designed to guide someone in determining which habitat a bird can be found and photographed. These clues are not always adequate and the program can be slow at times as you fly from The Birder headquarters in Florida to other North American habitats.

Resources help identify which bird it is. Calls can be heard and video viewed. As the birds are photographed and identified, a newsletter is completed. There are several newsletters and an index which can be used. The newsletters are grouped by different types of birds.

The resources are good but the branching confusing. It is not always obvious the path to take. The CD may still be useful, especially for the primary and intermediate students. The level is appropriate, but the younger students will need some guidance to begin. The older students may get impatient if the software is intended solely as a resource. Although the helps are adequate the introductory screen which tells what the icons mean is not narrated. This may be a drawback for younger students working alone. Available for either Macintosh or Windows. 1994. (Cost: under $40.00)


Catching the Wind is written by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Michael Rothman, Morrow Junior Books, New York, 1989. This book will spark the listener/reader's imagination. How would you like to become a wild bird, a goose that flies with its flock soaring through the air, skimming on the water as you land and using your webbed feet to skim through the water. Beautiful full-page color illustrations help the imagination as the listener/reader learns more about those birds we see so much and think we know so well.

Use this book as a Science Storytime prompt. For an inexpensive and quick take-home activity or a short activity after storytime have on hand the following materials. One set for each participant should include: small (6") paper plate cut in half; 6" plastic straw and two brass brads. Segments of the edge of a paper plate may be cut in varying sizes for the tail. You can either have these put together and let the children decorate and explore flight with their bird, have in baggies as a take-home activity or assemble together, depending on time and age level of the children. Your model of a bird will look something like this:

While you work you may want to explore some of the following questions with the children: Does it make a difference if the straight part or the curved part of the wings face forward? Does your bird fly better with the wings attached further back or closer to the front? Add a tail. Does this help your bird fly better? What do the pictures in the book make you think about how the goose flies?