Natural Nests

Children will gather materials to build a bird’s nest, part of a bird’s habitat.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn about a bird’s habitat by creating a bird’s nest.


What You'll Need

  • Pictures of a variety of birds’ nests
  • Brown coffee filters - 1 for each child and labeled with their name
  • Paper lunch bags – 1 for each child and labeled with their name
  • Glue
  • Permanent marker
  • Newspaper or wax paper

What To Do

Note: This activity includes a nature walk outside.

  1. Examine the pictures of the different nests and have the class brainstorm about what materials the birds use to make their nests. 
  2. Ask them what materials found in nature could be used to make nests. 
  3. Give each child a paper bag with their name on it, and take them outside to find materials to build their own nests.
  4. Upon returning to the classroom, give each child a brown coffee filter and glue. Have the children build their own nests in the coffee filter.
  5. Encourage them to share their materials.
  6. When the glue dries, ask each child to talk about his or her creation.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Have you ever seen a bird nest? Where did you see the nest? 
  • Was anything in the nest? Did you see any birds near the nest?
  • We used glue to hold our nests together. Birds do not have glue! What do you think they do to make the materials hold together to make their nests?
  • On our nature walk outside, how did you decide what you wanted to collect to make your nest?
  • What do birds do in their nests?

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Put any leftover materials in the art or science center so that children can create additional nests. Include some clay or play dough so that the children can make pretend eggs for the nests.
  • Transform your dramatic play area into a Habitat Haven. Provide stuffed animals and materials to create habitats. Children could use boxes to create caves or burrows, blankets to make nests, and pillows to create piles of leaves. Artificial flowers and plants can represent food, and large pieces of tin foil or a blue colored tray could be a pond.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Did the children demonstrate an understanding that nests are part of a bird’s habitat?
  • Were the children able to talk about birds’ nests and how they were a place where birds lived?
  • Were children able to understand that birds build their nests from a variety of things found in nature?


Did You Know

Most birds build nests in which they lay their eggs. Most nests are made from materials that birds collect in their environment such as string, sticks, grass and other materials from plants. Some birds make a nest in a shallow depression made in sand or in a knothole left by a broken branch. Not all birds build nestsBirds keep their eggs warm by brooding or sitting on the eggs. Birds sit on their eggs until they hatch. For some birds, such as gulls, both males and females share brooding. In many species of songbirds, the female broods the eggs and the male brings food to the brooding female. In a few species, only the male broods the eggs.

Perching birds have special adaptations for resting on branches. Songbirds make up a large part of this group of birds.  When a perching bird lands in a tree, its feet automatically close around a branch. If the bird falls asleep while it is perching, its feet will stay closed. The sleeping bird will not fall off the branch.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • bird – an animal with two wings, two feet, and feathers; most birds can fly.
  • nest –a place that animals use to hold their eggs.
  • habitat –the natural environment or home of an animal.
  • egg – an object that is a covering or shell for a baby animal.
  • hatch – when young animals develop inside their eggs, they break out when they are born.
  • twigs – small branches of a tree or other plant.

Lesson Tips

  • Have extra materials (twigs, grass, leaves, yarn) that you have collected in advance, available in case some children do not collect enough items to complete a nest.
  • Instead of glue, you could use paste or modeling clay.


  • A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins
  • Birds by Kevin Henkes
  • The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS