March winds and robins
To reflect on problems and what we can learn from the robinís perseverance.
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Key Stage 1
To reflect on problems and what we can learn from the robin’s perseverance.
Preparation and materials
- The poem and actions make this suitable for younger children while some of the facts and figures are more appropriate for older children – adapt for your audience as appropriate.
- There are actions for the Reception children. Older children may enjoy reading the poem aloud with you.
- Optional: a picture of a robin; written descriptions of a robin for the blackboard, whiteboard or computer screen (see point 1).
- Tell the children that you are thinking of a bird. Ask them if they can guess which bird you are thinking of from the written (or spoken) descriptions. Show these one at a time in the following order. The children can put their hands up as they guess the bird but should not call out its name.
This is a small bird.
This bird may be known by two names, both beginning with the same letter.
This bird stays with us all winter.
This bird is often seen on Christmas cards.
This bird has a red breast.
When all the children have had a chance to guess the bird, show the picture of the robin. What colours do they see in the bird?
- Talk about robins with the children. Who has seen a robin? Where? What was the bird doing? The robin is the UK’s favourite bird. Why do you think this is? Why do you think robins are favourite birds on Christmas cards?
Explain to the children that, unlike many other birds which fly off to warmer countries for the winter, the robin stays with us all through the dark, cold, windy, snowy days and nights of December, January and February. It is difficult for the bird to find food and to keep warm during these months and many die.
Once March arrives it should be springtime, but often cold winds blow in from the north, spelling great danger for already tired and weakened little robins.
- Read and mime the poem ‘The north wind doth blow’.
The north wind doth blow (sway arms like branches blowing)
And we shall have snow (wiggle fingers downwards)
And what will the robin do then, poor thing? (spread arms out, question with your face)
He’ll fly to the barn (flap arms)
To keep himself warm (wrap arms around)
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing (tuck arm around head)
- Some facts and figures: a bird can lose up to 10 per cent of its body weight during one cold winter’s night. Normally the fat reserves built up by the bird will keep it going for a few days. If it cannot feed well every day then a long spell of cold weather can kill the bird.
This is when we can help solve the bird’s problem by putting food out on our bird tables. Appropriate food for robins is fat, cheese, biscuit and cake crumbs and dried fruit. Remind the children of the need for water too.
- Explain that there will, however, be times when the weather is too bad for the bird to come out to find food. What do they think it will do then? Refer to the poem. The robin will simply have to rely on its own reserves (the food it has stored up in its body). It will do what it can to help itself. It will simply ‘dig in’, settle down and ‘ride out the storm’ as best it can.
- We can learn some lessons from this little robin. Often we will face difficulties and problems. Some will be small and some will be big. Some will last just a few minutes and some will go on for longer. Usually there will be people to help us with them, like parents or teachers or friends, especially if we are young children.
There will come a time, however, when we will be faced with a problem, like the little robin, when it seems that we are on our own. At that time, we too will have to ‘dig in to our own reserves’ and ‘ride out the storm’. This is when we will learn, like the little robin, to become strong and to have endurance (keep going). An example might be some school work you are finding hard. You get lots of help but you still have to keep going on your own until you understand it or can do it.
- Optional: Christians believe that this is also a time when many people learn that there is a God whom they can ask for help and who answers their cry.
You may feel it appropriate to mention that some children have problems that they should never face alone. Relate this to the school anti-bullying policy and who they should talk to if they are worried about anything.
Time for reflection
Think about times when you have had a problem or difficulty which you have just had to put up with and to get through. Be encouraged at your endurance and success. Are there times when we should share our problems and get adult help?
We thank you that you have made us stronger than we think.
We thank you that we are able to do and achieve far more than we think,
because you have made us in your image.
Thank you that you have promised us your help and wisdom and strength,
whenever we need it.
‘Give me oil in my lamp’ (Come and Praise, 43)