Preschool Bird Feeder Activity for Language Development

Preschool Bird Feeder Activity for Language Development

Bird Feeder

Bird Feeder

Looking for a great hands-on activity to develop your child’s vocabulary? Then, you’re in luck! Every spring, I make bird feeders with my preschool aged clients. They LOVE it and I LOVE it too! Making bird feeders gives ample opportunities to talk about birds, nature, and even squirrels (gee, I wonder why?). What’s even nicer is that the bird feeders continue to give talking points even after it’s brought home (i.e. “Honey, look there’s a bird eating your bird feeder!”).

Target Age: Preschool Children

As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I love doing arts and crafts with my young clients.

My goal for this activity is to introduce new vocabulary.

Gather the following materials:


  • Baking tray
  • Stale bagel
  • Bird Seed
  • Dried cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Baking Tray
  • String, rope, ribbon
  • Gloves optional to protect a child from any food allergies, etc

FYI- Remember to be wary of nut and seed allergies. When in doubt ask!

 Some possible target words:

Nouns                                             Verbs                                Adjectives

Seeds                                           Sprinkle                                 Hard

Bagel                                             Scatter                                  Sticky

Bird Feeder                                    Hang                                     Stale

Beak                                              Display                                  Round

Feathers                                         Press                                    Pointy (beak)

Hole                                               Spread                                   Firm

Squirrel                                           Pat                                        Greasy


  • Present the bagel and talk about what it looks, feels, and smells like. Since we’re working with a stale bagel, it is most likely hard so emphasize that it’s hard and will be difficult for little boys and girls to bite into. Ask: “What else is hard? (e.g. a table, a rock).” The bagel is also round like a ball. Can you think of anything else? (e.g. wheel of a bike, tire of a car).


  • Next, introduce the vegetable shortening to the child. Explain how vegetable shortening is sticky. It sticks to your fingers. Peanut butter, honey and glue are also sticky. Use a dull plastic knife, spatula, or the back of a spoon to spread vegetable shortening onto the bagel. Say: “I’m spreading the shortening (or peanut butter, whatever you choose to use) onto the bagel.” If you feel your child can try it, have him spread some shortening on too (“Benny, do you want to spread some on too?”. NOTICE – I’m trying very hard to introduce vocabulary words to replace the word “PUT”!

The word PUT is so overused with preschoolers.

Preschoolers are very capable of saying more descriptive words like sprinkle, scatter, and spread. They just need exposure to such words Remember, according to studies, conversations between parents and children are the most influential contributors to vocabulary before school entry.

  • Then, show the child the bird seed and or dried fruit. Talk about the different colors, shapes and sizes.  Show the child how to sprinkle or scatter the seeds onto the bagel. Say, “When you sprinkle something on, you’re putting a little bit here and a little bit there.” Explain to the child how sprinkling is different than dumping something on. If you wanted to, you could even demonstrate the difference. It’s all up to you! Ask the child to carefully sprinkle or scatter the seeds onto the bagel.


  • After some seeds have been sprinkled on, then press or pat the seeds into the shortening so they don’t fall off.


  • When the bagel is fully covered with seeds, you can tie a ribbon, rope, or string through the hole of the bagel (or it’s middle).
  • Lastly, pick a perfect place to hang the bird feeder so that your child can watch the birds chow down!

Interactive storybook activities also help to develop vocabulary. For this reason, I like to read books about birds or bird houses for extension activities. As I’ve mentioned before, many children learn words incidentally. However, to retain a newly learned word, they may have to be exposed to it several times. This is why I like reading books related to birds or bird houses.

Here are some of my favorites:


**Note: I tend to omit the word “darn” when I read it out loud.

Other Tips:

  • Birds are attracted to colors! So add some color to your bird feeder. BUT, stay away from white because it signals danger to a bird.
  • Position the bird feeder in a quiet but visible area. Preferably away from a fence where squirrels can easily get to it!

Summary of Strategies:

  1. Provide multiple repetitions
  2. Narrate your actions and your child’s actions.
  3.  Expose the new word in various settings and contexts (see extension activities for examples)
  4. Ask interesting, genuine questions to get your child thinking! Do not ask “test-like questions”. Two words: NOT FUN!

Extension Activities:

Does your child have a favorite book about birds or bird feeders? If so, please share!

Kimberly Scanlon, M.A. CCC-SLP is a speech language pathologist, an author and a mother. As the owner of Scanlon Speech Therapy, LLC, a unique boutique practice in Bergen County, Kimberly embraces individuality and treats the whole person. Her goal is to spread compassion, hope, and some speech, language and literacy tips one moment, one person at a time. She blogs at and Her first book, My Toddler Talks: Strategies and Activities to Promote Your Child’s Language Development; it’s available for purchase at

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