Waterfowl and other waterbirds are some of the best wildlife to go view with kids in wetlands and other natural areas, regardless of your location. If you are planning a waterfowl field trip – or a whole waterfowl and waterbird unit – this waterbird & waterfowl activities list is the place to start!
In case you are wondering, waterfowl are ducks, geese, and swans – birds in the biological order Anseriformes. Meanwhile, “waterbirds” is a more general term. Waterbirds refers to a large group including waterfowl and other water-loving birds. This includes wading birds (e.g., herons, egrets, cranes), shore birds (e.g., sand pipers, plovers), as well as loons, grebes, coots, cormorants, and more!
Try out some of these waterbird and waterfowl activity ideas with your class!
1. Waterfowl Origami
Fold an origami crane, swan, or duck. Or all three! Here are a few helpful online tutorials:
- The National Crane Foundation‘s instructions for folding Origami Cranes – with printable directions and a video!
- Fold an Origami Swan – with this video from Origami Plus – Easy Origami Tutorials on YouTube!
- How to Fold an Origami Duck – with this easy tutorial from WikiHow
Go on a birdwatching adventure at a local wetland or lake. Bonus: before you head out, print out a species checklist of local waterfowl and waterbirds!
Here are a few online resources to help you begin birdwatching like a pro!
- Identify birds by their calls with the Merlin free app
- The National Park Service‘s article on Birding For Beginners with lots of helpful advice to get you started on birding!
- Check out the American Birding Association to find species checklists, bird ID help, local birding clubs, and young birder programs!
3. Bird Stories
Read a children’s book featuring waterfowl! Possibilities include “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey and “The Trumpet of the Swan” by E. B. White.
Here are some websites that put together lists of bird-related books:
- Ten Birdy Children’s Books to Read With Your Fledglings, a August 2019 blog post on Audubon by T. Santora
- Check out GoodReads list of books for bird lovers – including several books featuring geese and ducks!
- This July 2022 blog post on Teaching Expertise by C. Nguyen has a list of 23 Kid-Friendly Bird Books
4. Pond Projects
5. Bird Beaks
Try a bird beak lab – use different “beaks” (e.g., chopsticks, tweezers, slotted spoon), to pick up different “food sources” (pasta, seeds, peas). See which beak is the best at “catching” each food.
There are lots of versions of Bird Beaks Labs around the web. Here are a few good ones:
- Northern Arizona University’s Bird Beaks Lab
- Audubon for Kids: What’s that Beak For?
- Northeastern University’s Natural Selection – bird beak lab
- Wild Earth Lab – there’s a bird beak’s lab included in my Waterbirds Unit! (See picture below)
6. DIY Duck Calls
Learn how to create a simple duck call. Then listen to recordings of the different sounds ducks make. Can you imitate any of them?
Here are a few examples of easy DIY duck calls to get you started:
- Science Bob teaches you to Make a Simple Duck Call
- This WonderHowTo post also teaches you to Make duck or fog horn sounds with a straw
7. Swim like a swan!
Experience swimming like a swan (or duck, or grebe…)! Grab a pair of swimming flippers (aka snorkeling fins) and head to a local pool or swimming area.
Bonus: toss some diving rings and practice diving under the surface of the water like a diving duck to retrieve them!
8. Duck Masks & Art Projects
Do a waterbird art or writing project! Learn to draw or paint a waterbird from your area. Write a poem about your favorite waterbird! Decorate a duck mask! Write a short story. Sit by a wetland habitat as you sketch, draw, or nature-journal!
9. Be a Habitat Helper
Volunteer to help clean up waterbird habitat in your local area. Research local conservation groups to find out about park and natural area clean-up days in your community.
10. Study Birds with Wild Earth Lab
Try out my Waterfowl and Waterbirds Unit in your classroom! It’s got lots of activities and all the worksheets, handouts, decorations, and guides you will need for a wonderous waterbirds unit in your classroom or homeschool!
Explore curriculum from Wild Earth Lab:
If you enjoyed these waterfowl activities, I know you will love using my environmental science materials in your classroom!
Are you interested in more nature activity ideas? Subscribe or follow Wild Earth Lab using the links below!