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Bluebird Math

Updated on February 12, 2015

Bluebirds of the Meadow Unit Study Math Activities

The bluebirds are busy building nests, laying eggs and helping young children learn all about math. Help the bluebirds find their birdhouses using one to one correspondence. Add and subtract bluebirds on the Bluebird MathMats. Make your own Bluebirds from Lima Beans and use them to discover mathematical concepts.

The basis of all math is discovering and describing pattens found in the natural world. This lens offers dozens of math activities, workjobs and centers for teaching math with a bluebird theme.

Photo Credit: Bluebird Eggs by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast Region

Used under creative commons

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird on the Roof
Eastern Bluebird on the Roof | Source

Bluebirds Returning to Vermont

My grandmother remembers bluebirds singing cheerily on fence posts throughout her childhood but sometime along in the 1950s they all disappeared. She was always fond of them and mourned their loss.

Now it seems they are coming back. We can help by placing bluebird houses along fence lines as seen in the picture below. Bluebirds like openings to their houses to be oval shaped, about 1 and a half inches in diameter. They don't need perches in order to enter or leave these houses.

Houses built especially for bluebirds are less appealing to other species encouraging bluebirds to nest there. One year I was lucky enough to have a pair of bluebirds nest in the house on the edge of my field.

That year my children were just the right age for noticing and being fascinated with their activities. We incorporated this interest into our unit study activities including learning math. This article highlights some of the ways we learned math the year the bluebirds nested in our bluebird house...

Bluebird House

Bluebird House at Royalton Bed and Breakfast
Bluebird House at Royalton Bed and Breakfast | Source

Bluebirds nest on the Edge of Garner Rix's Field

Bluebirds of the Meadow Unit Study

At our home in Vermont we have set out a bluebird house along the edge of the field that Garner Rix cleared over 200 years ago. When we sit on the porch we watch them flying in and out of the birdhouse building a nest in preparation for laying eggs and raising their young chicks.

Bluebirds eat Insects in the Meadow

Sometimes a bluebird perches on top of the bluebird house watching for insects.

Photo Credit: The Bluebird House in early spring in front of our

Royalton Bed and Breakfast in Vermont

Bluebirds fly through the air, grab an insect in their bills and fly back to feed their babies.

Watching the Bluebirds

Rather than tell children to stop looking out the window and pay attention to their workbooks, I encourage children to look outside in order to encourage more enthusiasm for learning.

The Bluebirds of the Meadow Unit Study describes activities that teach children all across the curriculum.

This lesson will focus on Bluebirds and Math.

Western Bluebird

Male Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) with a fresh Cricket for newly hatched nestling.
Male Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana) with a fresh Cricket for newly hatched nestling. | Source

Use this bluebird stamp to make patterns or math problems.

  • Make bluebird patterns on index cards
  • One child looks at the card and tries to describe the pattern in words. The other child tries to replicate the pattern

I have index cards and markers for the children to make up math problems for their friends. They put the answers on the back for self checking.

Look for more great ideas in Mathematics Their Way.

Watch Baby Bluebirds Hatch

Lima Bean Bluebirds

You can paint Lima Beans to resemble bluebirds on one side and eggs on the other to use as math manipulatives.

  • Lay Lima Beans on a newspaper and spray paint one side blue.
  • Allow to dry
  • Spray paint the other side blue and allow to dry.
  • Use a fine paintbrush or fine tipped marker to draw eyes, beak, wings and other features and allow to dry.
  • Spray a clear coat over each side and allow to dry.

My children loved their bluebird math manipulatives. They made up many stories about them. Using the bluebirds for learning math was another way of turning math into a series of fun games and activities.

Bluebird Math Mats - Lima Bean Math Manipulatives

Lima Bean Bluebird Math Manipulatives
Lima Bean Bluebird Math Manipulatives | Source

Addition and Subtraction with Bluebird Lima Beans

+0=0Use bluebird nests and Lima Bean Bluebirds to help children learn basic math facts

Using the Bluebird Math Mats

  • Place Lima Beans on a piece of green felt with brown felt cut out to resemble a nest.
  • Move the bluebird eggs and birds on the mathmat to show addition and subtraction facts.

Start with the bluebirds off the mat to show 0+0=0

  • Then tell the children that one bluebird flies into the nest. Help them form the equation that shows what just happened.
  • That's right, 0+1=1. One bluebird is now on the nest.

From here you can continue to keep adding bluebirds and writing equations. Continue until you get to 10 bluebirds in the nest and then have them begin to fly away while creating subtraction equations.

For more advanced learners you may want to use 5 or more nests. Limit the number of bluebirds allowed on the nest to two. By doing this you can introduce the binary system or base 2. This can easily lead to skip counting by 2's .

Put the Eggs in the Nests - One to One Correspondence

Eastern Bluebird Nest with Five Blue Eggs.
Eastern Bluebird Nest with Five Blue Eggs. | Source

Counting Baby Bluebirds

1. Spray paint the Lima Beans with baby blue paint.

2.Use a fine tipped permanent marker to to draw the features of a bluebird on one side of the Lima Beans.

3. Make a nest from brown and tan felt.

4. Make a hollow tree from gray felt and glue it onto the left side of a green math mat.

5. Glue the nest in the hollow of the tree trunk.

Children place 5 eggs in the nest.

Line up a paper under the math mat so that the children can fill in the number sentences.

5 eggs in the nest 0 baby bluebirds hatched.


Tell the children that one baby bluebird has hatched. (Turn over one egg)

4 eggs in the nest. 1 baby bluebird hatched.



Then you can have the baby bluebirds fledge by having them one my one fly out into the meadow.

After playing this game several times, children can start to make up their own math problems with the birds and eggs. You can also turn these into class books for reading during silent reading time.

Bluebird with a Blueberry

Bluebird with Bluebieeies
Bluebird with Bluebieeies | Source

Bluebird Unit Study Math

Math can easily be included within a unit study about bluebirds.

Bluebird and Bluebird House Patterns - Bluebird Math

Photo Credit: Bluebird Birdhouseon Flickr, Creative Commons.

Photo Credit: Bluebird in the Public Domain.

When watching the bluebirds fly into the birdhouses with bits of grass to make a nest, one of my children suggested that we make a bluebird and bluebird house pattern.

1. We talked about how our pattern is an ABAB pattern.

2. Later on we used this pattern to Skip Count the birds and birdhouse by 2's.

3.How Many Eggs Will a Female Lay? For those children working on functions, we learned that most bluebirds lay 4-7 eggs. For every pair of parents that go into the bluebird house and lay eggs, assuming that no birds die, how many birds will that produce? How many bluebirds will there be the next year? How many bluebirds will there be in 5 or 10 years.

By looking for patterns in bluebird populations children can work on Bluebird math at many different levels making this Bluebird Unit Study Math ideal for multiage classes, classes with mixed abilities or homeschooling families.

Bird related Math Mats - Math in the Bluebird Habitat

Serenade in Blue
Serenade in Blue | Source

Insect Feeding Bluebird Game

In this painting by Al Dornish the bluebirds are surrounded by 10 daisies.

Ten is a magic number in mathematics.

Children can use the ten daisies to help organize groups of ten objects leading to a better understanding of place value.

  • Play the Insect Feeding Bluebird Game.
  • Roll one or two dice.
  • Place that number of insects, one on each of the daisies.
  • When you have ten or one on each of the daisies, move them all to a bluebird.
  • The first person to get more than 30 insects is the winner.

My children loved learning big numbers or place value math with bluebirds and daisies. I am sure that yours will too.

Bluebird Calendar - Bluebird Unit Study Calendar Time

Bluebird Math Calendar Patterns

I created this bluebird math calendar with my children.

  • Which picture will come next in the pattern?
  • Will it be a bluebird? Will it be a bluebird house?
  • Recognizing repeated patterns is a fundamental basis for understanding all mathematics.
  • How could you and your children create a pattern for your calendar using a bluebird theme?
  • Would you use bluebird eggs and nests?

Bluebird Calendar Math - Bluebird Unit Study Calendar

You can use the bluebird cookie cutter to trace bluebird shapes to create patterns on the Bluebird Calendar. Invite children to guess each day what the next picture will be in the pattern.

Song of the Bluebird

Song of the Bluebird
Song of the Bluebird | Source

Bluebird, bluebird, through my window.

Bluebird, bluebird, through my window.

Bluebird, bluebird, through my window.

Bluebird, bluebird, through my window.

Oh, Johnny, I am tired.

Redbird, redbird, through my window.

Redbird, redbird, through my window.

Redbird, redbird, through my window.

Oh, Johnny, I am tired.

Yellowbird, yellowbird, through my window.

Yellowbird, yellowbird, through my window.

Yellowbird, yellowbird, through my window.

Oh, Johnny, I am tired.

Bluebird, bluebird, through my window. - Finding Mathematical Patterns in Music

How could we use music from the Bluebird Unit Study to teach mathematical patterns?

1. Teach the song to the children and then look for the pattern in the verses. AAAB, CCCB, DDDB

2. If you wanted to make a flannel board scene to show the birds in this song how many birds would you need? (3X3=9)

3. It you continued the pattern how might the next verse go?

Bluebird Math Center Activity

Paint the box to resemble a bluebird house. The green placemat is the grass.

1. Put 5 bluebirds in the birdhouse and place the birdhouse on the grass.

2. One bluebird flies out into the meadow to look for insects.

3. Five bluebirds minus 1 bluebirds leaves 4 bluebirds in the bluebird house.

Write: 5-1=4

Continue until there are no more bluebirds in the bluebird house.

Sailor with a Bluebird Tatoo

Sailor | Source

Bluebirds represent Large Numbers

Bluebird Math and Social Studies

Each bluebird tattooed to a sailor's chest represented 5,000 nautical miles. How far has this sailor traveled? Can you find any ports on a globe that are 10,000 nautical miles apart?

Gr. 1-2 For younger children we look up the information together and fill in the blanks on a sailor worksheet.

Gr.3+ Challenge children to find ports that are 5000 or more nautical miles apart. They can write about their sailor's voyage on the back and share the story during Writing Workshop.

Let's write about Bluebirds!

  • Now that you have played some games and learned some math using a bluebird theme, it is time to share your experiences.
  • Take some pictures of the games you and your children have played.
  • Show how using the bluebird theme has made learning fun for your children.
  • Count all the ways that you can integrate math into your unit study about bluebirds.
  • Come write about bluebird math.

Bluebird Math Chat

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    • OrganicMom247 profile image


      6 years ago

      A fun way to learn.

    • Monika Weise profile image

      Monika Weise 

      7 years ago from Indianapolis, IN USA

      All the birdies in my house give this a 10 beaks up. What a lovely way to teach math!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Delightful teaching resource! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      7 years ago

      This is a great math activity. You really know how to make lessons fun & interesting.

    • Geekgurl profile image

      Kimberly Hiller 

      7 years ago from Chicago

      This is a really great idea. Some kids just look at a piece of paper with problems on it and fall asleep. This is something to give them interaction, and that math doesn't always have to be boring!

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      9 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Wonderful lens! As usual from you....going over to visit your BnB lens too!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Fantastic math resource! Love this unit study. I am featuring it as math resource of the month of Sept. at Math Resources for homeschoolers.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Fantastic math resource! Love this unit study. I am featuring it as math resource of the month of Sept. on my math-resources lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Another wonderful teaching lens - and I do love the bluebirds!

    • dahlia369 profile image


      9 years ago

      What a neat way to teach math!! - I hope many parents discover fun methods like this one to make their child's life easier... :)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow! Great work! What a terrific resource!

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Welcome to the Learning and Teaching Math group.

    • groovyoldlady profile image


      9 years ago

      Hahaha...Love the tattoo idea! How nonconventional!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      9 years ago

      such a marvelous lens. Loved it.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      [in reply to aj2008] Thank you for the Angel Blessings!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lense Evelyn! You're really getting this down. I need to take lessons from you.

      Again, Great job!

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 

      9 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      great interesting lens. 5*

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      We love our birds, although we do not have Bluebirds in the UK. Angel blessings to you and your birds!

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 

      9 years ago

      very cool!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Evelyn Saenz 

      9 years ago from Royalton

      [in reply to KimGiancaterino] Thank you, SquidAngel!

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      9 years ago

      Beautiful lens... Squid Angel Blessed.


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