I have a 7 year-old nephew who is getting interested in nature, birds in particular. Can anyone suggest a simple, on-line illustrated guide to classification? It would be ideal if focused on birds (but wider would also be fine) and explained the divisions down to species. Many thanks. Pete.
I think that learning all the taxonomic levels down to the species level sounds like too much for a 7-year old. I would recommend concentrating on species and families.
I agree with Susan. For general species comparisons, I recommend https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/
But still, even that is complex for a 7-year-old…
My friend’s son began IDing hawks when he was 8. I guess it depends on the child, as all are different. I recommend asking him what his favorite bird is, and then getting him a guide that focuses only on that genus (or that genus plus very similar ones). Then if he’s into it, he can expand into others later.
EDIT/ADDITION: If you’re not “feeling” that option LOL, I recommend getting him a guide book that only covers all genera that would be seen in HIS location.
My friend’s son began hawk ID by first checking his guide book (which was only for birds of prey in his country), then consulting the online resource already mentioned by @zdanko.
As for your request of it being a “simple” resource, well that depends on what he’s into — some bird IDs are very simple, while other IDs (like hawks!) are commonly debated by multiple known experts.
Hi Peter, I think this would be a great thing to start a 7 year old on, But if he is interested in more than just birds you the same thing but with other animals.
I have delivered citizen science programming for children at my public library in Canada, and I’m not aware of any titles presenting something as complex as classification for readers that young. I can recommend the following, this is a great title to start kids thinking about identifying what they see in nature:
Citizen scientists : be a part of scientific discovery from your own backyard - by Loree Griffin Burns. ISBN 9780805090628.
These are some good bird identification guides for younger readers, tho’ please note these are in a North American context:
National Geographic kids bird guide of North America (2013) - by Jonathan Alderfer. ISBN 9781426310942.
A children’s guide to Arctic birds (2014) - by Mia Pelletier ; illustrated by Danny Christopher. ISBN 9781927095676.
Backyard birds : an introduction (2005) - by Robert Bateman. ISBN 9780545997430.
And one UK title:
My first book of garden birds (2006) - by Mike Unwin and Sarah Whittley ; illustrated by Rachel Lockwood. ISBN 9780713676785.
When I was 7 year old, I remember understanding without that much of a problem all taxonomic levels. I think every child is different and we cannot underrate him/her just because he/her is too young.
Using a regular guide would be enough for your purpose, as they come with illustrations it’s what you should focus on, even a small child can start to see the differences between pics and learn those step by step if that’s what they’re interested in.
@marina_gorbunova I agree with you.
For a seven year old, I’m not sure that an on-line resource for classification would be ideal. There are lots of nature books (paper ones, not electronic) for children that I think would be more appropriate. If you can take them to a zoo or natural history museum and let them pick out a book from the gift store, so much the better. My fondest childhood memories are looking through the books at a store and picking out the one I wanted.
Well, that’s true, I think a book would be better for a little kid than an online resource
We have an unfortunate tendency to massively underestimate and underappreciate what kids can and will learn when they’re interested in a subject.
A lot of the idea that “kids aren’t ready” for something that complex or with X content is much more a product of adults and society deciding what they want rather than anything to do with the kids are capable and interested in learning and understanding.
I was fortunate to be brought up around people who didn’t place artificial restrictions on my curiosity and learning, and who would answer complex and “mature” subjects honestly and without oversimplifying them, and as a result I had a good understanding of a lot of complex subjects from an early age.
When I look at people I know with children and compare those who raise their children similarly to how I was raised versus those who take the “Oh, my child isn’t ready for that yet”, approach I’m always astounded by how profoundly lacking the latter kids are, even into adulthood, in not just knowledge, but in basic skills and the ability to figure things out.
Underestimating the potential of children and withholding learning opportunities from them about things they’re interested in is, to me, doing them a massive disservice; one that has consequences that stay with them their entire lives.
I would suggest approaching the skill from a different direction - teaching the child to describe the features of any taxa of their choice as clearly and vividly as possible.
This lays the foundation for classifying them on the basis of said features; and also widens their general vocabulary and observational skills.
The opposite can be true as well. If an adult pushes onto kids resources that are too far above their level of understanding (or desire to understand), they could be steered away from something they could have otherwise become interested in. The trick, perhaps, is giving them the opportunity to pick up a wide variety of resources (books, magazines) if and when they desire.
There are several YouTube videos directed at kids that cover biological classification. But it’s my opinion that kids get too much flashy screen time as it is. I’m not one to recommend more of it.
The responses to this topic are starting to stray away from the original request.
I think we should focus more on suggesting resources for OP’s nephew, and maybe discussing those resources.
Take a look at Cornell’s K-12 birding advice:
the little movie is good, but I think it could be helpful (and, perhaps, fun) to do the following slides together or with an interested adult (e.g., to go over the larger vocabulary words and concepts). In my experience, kids thrive on some focused one-on-one time with an adult; something many families and schools may not be able to do with them very often.
I agree with you, but I think that the best way to learn classification is first to get familiar with a bunch of individual species of one kind of creature, and then have someone explain to you stuff like that these two are in the same genus, these four are in the same family, all these six are in the same order, all of them are in the same class and phylum. Because we can usually fairly easily see the similarities and differences.
And then, if you know a few other species, that same person can explain to you which ones are in different families and so on, and why.
To me it doesn’t make much sense at age 7 to learn classification as an abstract scheme unless you have a way of applying it to organisms in the real world. Which, after all, is why classification was invented in the first place.
Not precisely what you are looking for, but I bet your nephew would love looking through Bird and Moon comics. Many of them are super educational, while also very funny!
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