Perching on an old limb
Garments mimicking the blue sky
Dear Grandma Squirrel,
Whispers of fall resonate through the woodland. Gentle breezes scatter the newly fallen leaves across the soft meadow. Yellow, red, and golden hues color the mountainside as I watch the magnificent sunset. I have noticed my fur is quite thicker and I feel the need to gather as much food as I possibly can. I have quite the collection of acorns stored in the nook of my tall oak tree.
One day, as I gathered acorns, I heard the shrilling sound of a red-tailed hawk! I darted quickly into my little safe space hidden next to a knot in the tree. After a time, I cautiously poked my head out to make sure it was safe. To my surprise, I didn’t see that old mean Mr. Hawk, I saw an upset bird dressed in the most beautiful blue! And Grandma Squirrel, do you know that area right on top of a bird’s head? The feathers there stuck straight up and spread out like a fan. He was unhappy and frazzled, hopping from limb to limb. I scurried across a branch, carefully making my way to this feathered fellow. As I drew closer, he hopped right around and stared at me with his head cocked to the side. Before I could say, “Well, hello, Mr. Bird,” he flew quickly away. Dearest Grandma, please tell me everything you know about this impressive bird dressed in blue.
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Hello! My name is Mr. Passerine. My binomial name is Cyanocitta Cristata. I am a perching bird from the kingdom, Animalia. My body is covered in feathers. I have different types of feathers and each serve an important purpose. Have you ever found a bird’s feather while exploring in your backyard? What did it look like? Was it delicate and fluffy? If so, this type of feather is called down feathers. I love these fluffy feathers because they keep me warm. Take a look at my black bill. My beak is very helpful to me when I am hungry. It is so strong, I can use it to crack open all kinds of nuts. Yum! Yum! I am known to be a noisy bird. One fascinating fact about me is that I can sound just like a red-tailed hawk! What other amazing facts can you discover about me?
Study my handsome coat. What do you notice?
You may find me perching on an old limb, flying through the bluest sky, alighting gracefully on the greenest grass, or splitting an acorn with my tough black bill.
“….must have cut off a little piece of the sky when it was bluest on a summer day to make Sammy’s coat…” Thornton Burgess
In Which a Blue Jay’s Study Begins…
Why Sammy Jay Has a Fine Coat by Thornton Burgess
We opened up our Blue Jay study with Why Sammy Jay Has a Fine Coat by Thornton Burgess. This comical, short story is tucked inside The Adventures of Danny Meadow Mouse and Mother West Wind “Why” Stories. Peter Rabbit thinks Sammy’s handsome coat is a big mistake. Grandfather Frog shares the reasons Sammy Jay is so bright and beautiful and teaches Peter Rabbit a lesson on judging based on outward appearance, “Never judge any one by his clothes. It is a great mistake, a very great mistake. Plain clothes sometimes covers the kindest of hearts, and find clothes often are a warning to beware of mischief.” Thornton Burgess
The Adventures of Sammy Jay by Thornton Burgess
This is another adventurous book by Thornton Burgess that combines a fictional story with fascinating facts about wildlife. As the white snow settles, join Sammy Jay and Chatterer the Squirrel as they outsmart one another and greed takes over. This is a wonderful bed time read aloud that will surely bring on the giggles!
Children’s Encyclopedia of Birds by Claudia Martin
This is a dynamic encyclopedia about birds! Full color, nature themed illustrations that keep your learner engaged. We used this nonfiction book often for our Blue Jay study and overall bird study.
The Boy Who Drew Birds A Story of John James Audobon by Jacqueline Davies
This is a wonderful picture book describing the life of the famous naturalists, John James Audobon. My children were fascinated by the way Mr. Audobon made his own discoveries about birds and the way he studied and drew them. They want to visit the exact cave he spent so much time in.
We began our study by filling our bird feeders with bird seed. We took a stroll on our property, keeping our eyes open for our feathered friends.
Can you spot the dark-eyed junco that flew in and said “hello”?
Blue Jay Art
The Blue Jay painting with Nana at Chalk Pastel Art chalkpastel.com is one of my favorites because it’s the very first one we tried a few years ago! My children’s love for art encouraged a search for affordable online art programs. I found Chalk Pastel Art on Instagram and bought the suggested art materials they listed. My children painted this Blue Jay and we all instantly fell in love. This painting along with my children’s fascination with this songbird inspired me to write A Blue Jay’s Study. Nana’s lessons are always so rich and educational, we paint with her all the time. My children were able to experience the lavish blue colors, impressive crest, and black collar that sets this passerine bird apart from all the others.
In our picture studies, we also drew birds or colored the beautiful Blue Jay with the coloring pages that are included in A Blue Jay’s Study.
Blue Jay Research
After our picture and nature studies, we read the letters between Cluster and Grandma Squirrel. This is a fictional based writing with facts about Blue Jays intertwined. As we read the letters, we underlined the facts we found concerning Blue Jays.
Next, we began our Blue Jay research. The research served as a foundation for writing our cinquain poem. Writing comes easier when learners have information to write about. Books, National Audubon Society https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/blue-jay , and Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_jay provided resourceful tools for research. We accessed the websites and read the information aloud, taking notes on the pages provided.
Writing Cinquain Poetry
After our research, we gathered all of our notes and placed them aside. Next, we studied cinquain poems and looked at examples. My children then chose which type of cinquain to write. One chose the syllable based and the other chose the word based cinquain. Using their notes, they began their creative writing journey about the bold Blue Jay. The visuals and examples given assisted in writing their poems. For the word based cinquain poem, we revisited nouns, adjectives, and action verbs. Together we thought about what birds do and while on our nature study, what we saw them doing. This helped with writing verbs. Words like perching, flying, chasing were mentioned. For adjectives, we looked at the video on my blog of the Blue Jay and pictures in books to describe this unique bird. The thesaurus came in handy as we looked for synonyms.
Below is an example of each cinquain poem (used with permission).
Syllable Count Cinquain
Word Count Cinquain
Singing, perching, calling
Lay eggs in nest
To bring our study to a close, we researched the Stellar’s Jay that visit our area! Check out the photos my daughter took of one at the beach!
If you are interested in A Blue Jay’s Study, check out my shop, it is available for purchase! If you are a You Are an Artist Clubhouse Member at Chalk Pastel Art, this study is available with your membership!
We would love to see your cinquain poetry and Thornton Burgess author study! Please tag us @treasuringthetinymoments and #treasuringthetinymoments on Instagram!
Copyright © 2021-2022 Jamie Gault, Treasuring the Tiny Moments Homeschool, LLC