Emmi goes to Preschool! (Help needed)

Emmi LOVES kids. She will go to the window and watch them run around outside. She loves being around my big family and danced for them right away as people walked in the door. I’ve also got a great group of kids where I work. I’m planning on bringing Emmi into the school and letting her meet the kids in small groups. I have some of her feathers to hand around because I’m not planning on handing her around. I will also be bringing in her herbs, flowers, and fruit to show them what she eats. They are already very interested in them because I brought in a ton of her herbs for the kids to grind with a stone grinder. Sensory project! My classroom has been smelling nice. Plus, I figure the food will be a good math/graphing/estimation activity. What will Emmi eat first? How much? What’s left? Emmi will LOVE this! But I need help and some more ideas on how to teach the kids about Emmi. Mainly, anatomy and behavior.So a few questions…_What is the white feather called at the base of her tail? The correct term. I want to work on vocab with the kids. It’s the feather that is near her oil gland and I know she uses this for preening. _What is the correct term for holding food in a claw while eating? I want to show that they will not see our wild birds do this, but Emmi can. I want to explain why if I can. _What interesting facts can I share about her beak? Feet? Eyes? They will ask why she has no feathers near her eyes. _What behaviors are most interesting to you about your parrot? Why? _What do you think is the most interesting part of your parrots anatomy? Remember, these are preschoolers so not much is off the table to discuss. We don’t teach sex ed so that is the limit. But we are free to answer questions on poop! Lol I plan to explain why her poop looks the way it does. I’m pretty sure they will ask if she passes gas too. We honor these types of questions because we want to support their curiosity. I just don’t know the answer to that one! Lol Most people react in a funny way to this, but it’s natural and it helps the children learn about their own bodies. Anyway, I plan on doing this in March when we are done with our current project on space rockets. (I plan around the children’s interests) They are so interested in flight. I know once I bring Emmi in, they will want to do a project on birds and we still have field trips to do before we switch gears. It’s never too early for me to start planning though! Thanks for your help!

Oh, what a neat project for your class!I think it’s interesting that parrots can see millions of more colors than us – like those in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. (You could bring a portable black light and items that glow under it.) Also, many kids are fascinated at how long some parrots can live. When I tell them that Skeeter could possibly live to be 35 years or more, and that some parrots can live to be 80, their eyes get all big!Best,Weka

What is the white feather called at the base of her tail? This is called the wick, same as the one in a candle and you can explain that the oil gland (uropygial gland) gives out an oil that is not only used to make her feathers clean and shiny and protect them from rain but also contains the cholesterol that, with the sunlight, will become cholecalciferol and that this, in turn, becomes the calcium she will use for her bones and her eggs (you can also tell them that birds can move calcium in and out of their bones)_What is the correct term for holding food in a claw while eating? I want to show that they will not see our wild birds do this, but Emmi can. I want to explain why if I can. Actually, wild parrots do it too but I assume you are referring to passerines when you say ‘wild birds’ and they don’t hold food in their feet because their beaks are specialized as to the diet they consume with seed eaters having a groove inside their beak where they ‘fit’ the seed to peel it with their tongue (parrots don’t have it so they need to hold it with their feet so they can peel it). I don’t know if there is a special term for the action, tough…_What interesting facts can I share about her beak? Feet? Eyes? They will ask why she has no feathers near her eyes. The space without feathers around the eyes is called ‘orbital ring’ but I don’t know why it has no feathers although different species of birds have different colors in it and, in some, it changes during breeding season. Their feet are called zygodactyl because it has two toes to the front and two to the back which is the best distribution for hanging on tight to something and which helps them climb so well. They, as well as the legs, are covered with scales (just like the dinosaurs they come from used to have). The beak grows constantly (just like mice teeth) and that’s why they need to chew all the time (so they can keep it from growing and growing and growing). It’s made of the same material as our nails, it grows out of the bones in their faces and it has a ‘soft’ center where there are blood vessels. Instead of the eyes themselves, I would talk about their vision which is infinitely superior to ours not only because they can see colors we don’t but also because they can see much, much better than we do both close up and far away -a hawk can clearly see a 2mm object -1/16 of an inch- from a distance of 60 ft!. The other notable characteristic of their vision is that because the path the light takes to bring the image to their brain is completely different from ours (it takes a shortcut), they can tell at a single, split second glance what exactly it is that they seeing while we need much more time for our brain to understand the same thing -this is necessary for flight maneuvering). _What behaviors are most interesting to you about your parrot? Why? You can talk about preening, how they clean their claws and feet, how they fall in love and ‘marry’ for life, how they take care of their babies for months and months after they can eat on their own because the babies need to learn from the parents what is good to eat and what is not, where to find it, what is dangerous and what is not, etc -just like human parents teach their children. You can also talk about how they communicate with us by learning our language and how they not only repeat words they hear but have ‘cognitive’ (they know what they are saying) speech._What do you think is the most interesting part of your parrots anatomy? The skeleton and the plumage (bones are hollow so they can be light enough for them to fly and actually carry some of the air they breathe becoming part of their respiratory system) and the plumage which weights more than the naked bird and is changed (molted) when it becomes worn out so as to keep it always perfect because, without it, they would die.I’m pretty sure they will ask if she passes gas too. No, they don’t. When they have gas, their poop is spongy (has little holes like bubbles that got trapped in it)

Wow! This is perfect! Thank-you both for your input! I really have a lot to go on here and the gas question will be answered! Now my head is spinning with projects based on this information. So much fun!

I was thinking more along the lines of talking about what color the bird is, what feathers are, and how many toes it has. The stuff you mentioned sounded more like a graduate course on ornithology

Michael wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of talking about what color the bird is, what feathers are, and how many toes it has. The stuff you mentioned sounded more like a graduate course on ornithology Hahaha…maybe for the toddler room! These kids are Pre-K. They will ask why and how. They will notice differences in birds they have seen and Emmi. If I don’t have answers…they will fight amongst themselves on what’s the right answer. Then I have to take Advil when I get home. We just talked about the moon the other day. I asked them what they already knew. One girl said there were a lot of spots on the moon. Another boy became really upset when she called them spots. “Spots are spots and craters are craters! Not the same thing!” They are serious about finding the right words and right answer.This is exactly why I had to find out about the gas thing. Otherwise that conversation would get completely out of hand. Lol You go to the park with your birds, right? Do you see the same kids? Give them some vocab and show or tell them what that word means. They will remember next time…and a long time after that. They will be able to take that information and categorize it into future lessons they will learn. And big words…they absolutely love them. Not a week goes by where I don’t hear this phrase, “Teacher Kim, I know what <Enter big word here> means.” Most the time they are 100% right. You will be enriching their lives.

Make sure you tell them why they shouldn’t want a bird as a pet or you can just picture 30 kids running home to their parents begging to get one and one of the parents giving in and getting a budgie/cockatiel for the child to play with for a few weeks.I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a parrot in a household with children, but it’s gotta be the parents’ pet and not the childs’. They live too long and are too complicated/difficult to be considered a suitable pet for a child. People think they’re like aquarium fish and stay in a cage. They have no idea.

Michael wrote:Make sure you tell them why they shouldn’t want a bird as a pet or you can just picture 30 kids running home to their parents begging to get one and one of the parents giving in and getting a budgie/cockatiel for the child to play with for a few weeks.I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a parrot in a household with children, but it’s gotta be the parents’ pet and not the childs’. They live too long and are too complicated/difficult to be considered a suitable pet for a child. People think they’re like aquarium fish and stay in a cage. They have no idea.I thought about that last night as I was going to sleep! Thankfully, our parents are pretty cool. We don’t suffer from over indulgent parents, but that’s why they have there kids with us. We teach accountability, natural consequences, and self reliance. I can’t tell you how long I waited to find a school like this. But it did worry me a little. I’m very sure that if there was a question of getting a pet, the parent would ask me for information. I’m very prepared to give them the negative answer they don’t want to hear…the life long work. Lol But honestly, we enrich these kids lives so much. They see so many animals come into our school for a visit. It does not amount to anything, but pretend play. We do have play birds and parrots and I have an extra cage for them to play with. It usually ends there with preschoolers. It’s the development stage they are in.

I also worried about the cleaner we use. It’s diluted bleach. I think I will bring her in on a Monday in the morning before anything is sprayed. I go into work some Sundays so I can air out my classroom while I work, but it really does not smell like bleach. No one likes to bleach their clothes on accident with the spray so it’s peer pressure to get the mix perfectly diluted. Lol Very very small amount.

Michael wrote:Make sure you tell them why they shouldn’t want a bird as a pet or you can just picture 30 kids running home to their parents begging to get one and one of the parents giving in and getting a budgie/cockatiel for the child to play with for a few weeks.I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a parrot in a household with children, but it’s gotta be the parents’ pet and not the childs’. They live too long and are too complicated/difficult to be considered a suitable pet for a child. People think they’re like aquarium fish and stay in a cage. They have no idea.I would think that explaining that parrots are wild , not domestic and going heavy on the fact that parrots bite would do better than too complicated type stuff. Kids love scars, good for show and tell.