The Instituto Mixto de Educación Básica de la Cooperativa Ixlú, an elementary school, in Flores, Guatemala, organized a fantastic event for students and their families in July. The activities went from 7 am till around noon, and covered a diversity of subjects such as art, gardening, and bird identification! There were tons of games sprinkled throughout the event as well, including bird bingo, habitat discovery, obstacle games, and a scavenger hunt. There were mini-lessons in each module with discussions that got everyone involved with sharing their personal experiences with local birds in their every-day lives, the importance of birds in nature, how diverse birds are, and what they do for our communities.
The students made their personal bird journals for sketching and making notes about their bird observations. Kids “spied” on the birds with binoculars and field guides throughout the one-week event. They were able to start naming familiar local species and pointing out that sometimes the males and females of the same species look different, which is called sexual dimorphism. Many of the activities and games were part of the BirdSleuth curriculum, a curriculum developed at the Lab to promote educational activities about birds, their habitats, conservation, and bird citizen science in Latin American schools.
Two fun activities that got everyone’s creative juices flowing throughout the week were an art gallery and a habitat-creating workshop. Each student picked a different, favorite local bird to learn about its different body parts and to identify its silhouette. Afterwards, the students drew their bird and presented their newly found information to the class! The drawings were all put up outside to showcase the students’ artistic talents in art gallery format. The students later learned about container gardening and how to reuse common objects found in their homes such as tires and plastic containers to create habitats for their new bird friends.
Many migratory species pass through or settle down in Guatemala during the winter months of the Northern Hemisphere. The students learned about what migration meant for the birds, including the potential dangers of traveling so far from their homes. They worked together to brainstorm solutions to help reduce the negative effects on these migratory species!
At the end of the fun-filled week, the parents of the students were invited to a closing ceremony where the fantastic work of the students was showcased, including the art gallery and beautiful new garden. Everyone got certificates proving they finished the program and were able to bring home their artwork. The school’s director and teachers were recognized for all the help and resources that went in to make this first event such a spectacular success.