Beak adaptations

Investigating birds' beaks

Learning outcome

To recognise how animals adapt to suit their habitat and diet.

Key Stubbington focus

Environment - Birds

  • For Key Stage 2
  • Duration 1 hour
Success criteria
  • I can explain why birds have adapted in the way they have
  • I can match simulated feeding methods to specific birds’ beaks
  • Extension: I can use what I know about adaptations to create a new bird to suit a given criteria
Session plan

Introduction 15 minutes

In the Great Chamber (or classroom if necessary), briefly discuss the meaning of adaptation. This will be a recap if bird study carried out before. Tell the class that they will be focusing on one type of bird adaptation for this session, i.e. beaks.

Show the children the “All About Beaks” video (this lasts about 11 minutes).

Main 40 minutes

Lead the children to the classroom, if adjoining take into classroom without equipment. Ask them not to touch any of the equipment around the room. Tell them that around the room are eleven different activity stations. Each one represents a different bird’s feeding method or type of beak.

Give each pair of children a “Beak Adaptation” sheet. Explain that each pair has to match the feeding method activity number, shown on the activity card, to the type of bird shown on the sheet. Warn children not to move the activity cards as this leads to confusion. Once they have matched one activity, they move on to an empty activity station until they have completed all eleven. Oyster Catcher activity, number 8, must be supervised at all times.

Depending on the size and ability of the group, while one half of the group will be doing the beak activity, the other half will be next door designing their very own bird. This can be used as a second activity for a large group or as an extension activity for more able children. Show an example of a “Design A Bird” worksheet. Explain that the children must design and draw their own bird based on the list of features found on the worksheet. Remind them to use what they saw on the video to help them decide on certain features, e.g. male birds have bright, attractive plumage; good swimmers have webbed feet etc.

Plenary 5 minutes

Once everyone has completed both tasks, gather the children together again and go through the answers to the ‘beaks’ activity (answer sheet can be found under the box of worksheets). Look at how each activity simulated the feeding techniques of the bird it matched with.

Less able children

Adults to assist and read sheet; direct children to more obvious adaptations first.

More able children

Design a bird to apply what they have learned about bird adaptations.

Pre visit activities

Link to science topic on adaptation and habitats.

Follow up activities

  • Design a bird could be taken back to school in many ways e.g. as a stand alone activity, to influence an art project
  • Apply knowledge to other creatures, e.g. minibeasts
Health and safety checks
  • Children should keep hands away from faces
  • Certain activities will need explanation and adult supervision
  • Heron activity: children must keep the sharp implement within the water
  • Oyster Catcher activity: children must wear goggles and must be supervised by an adult at all times