Right at the time I decided to do a unit on birds in the classroom, this amazing book caught my eye – Charlie and Kiwi. . . an evolutionary adventure – created by Peter H. Reynolds and the NewYork Hall of Science.
I purchased a copy for my son who is intrigued by concepts of evolution and on a shopping trip to Kids Books with Ms. Sheperd-Dynes, Seymour’s Teacher Librarian, I convinced her (wasn’t a hard sell!) to buy a copy for our library. Two copies of this fantastic book meant that when Ms. Hibbert came in on a Thursday afternoon, we could each take half the class and share the book. Smaller groups and an interactive read aloud session means more opportunities for students to share questions, opinions and connections to other learning. We strive to provide many opportunities that allow students to develop oral language skills: listening, speaking in turn, adding to what someone else has said, responding to a question, etc. This book inspired lots of talk!
Story Summary: Charlie needs to write a report about a bird for school. He wanted to choose a bird that nobody else would choose and decided on a kiwi bird. But when he announced his selection to his classmates, they were a little confused. How could this strange flightless creature with whiskers be a bird? Charlie needed to know why the kiwi was so different from other birds and why? The next thing Charlie knows, he is zooming through space with his stuffed kiwi bird heading back in time to meet his Great x 5 Grandpa Charles who happens to be an expert on birds! This time Grandpa, Charlie and kiwi travel back in time to 30 million years ago. Charlie learns how the kiwi bird was just right for life in New Zealand and how and why it had likely evolved to be this way.
Grandpa Charles explains. “Little changes in each generation add up to big changes.”
Then the time travellers are whizzing back through time to meet the very first birds 150 million years ago! Charlie learns that the first birds were actually dinosaurs (with feathers!) So the many diverse birds that we have on the planet today all descended from the first birds – dinosaurs and changed and adapted to survive in different environments. Charlie returns to class armed with this new knowledge and a fossil of an early bird and explains to his class how all birds came from the same ancestor: the dinosaur!
Student reactions: Students then had the opportunity to think about what they had learned and share their learning on a Knew-New Connections sheet (adapted from Adrienne Gear‘s Non-fiction Reading Power text)
Here is some of what they shared:
I KNEW this already!
* Birds lay eggs. Shae-Lynn
*I knew that most birds fly. Reiko
*I already knew some birds don’t fly. Purity
*I knew that kiwis were birds, not just fruit! Catriona
* Birds eat with their beak. Markus
This is NEW to me!
* Kiwis have a good sense of smell. Khai
* These birds have big feet. Jacky
* Kiwis eat bugs at night. Shae-Lynn
*Dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago! Carmen
* I didn’t know that kiwis say keee weee keee weee. Truman
* I learned that Kiwi Bird whiskers help them hunt in the dark. Raelyn
*Kiwis evolved from birds that flew and changed because of danger in the air and better eating of bugs. Catriona
* I thought a kiwi was a fruit, but I found out it was a bird. Mai
This Knew-New Connections response sheet is an ideal way for students to express their new learning and connect their prior knowledge to new information.
We are hoping that Peter H. Reynolds is going to create more books like this! We learned so much!