Building a Robin Nest
Article | Teaching Suggestions

Reading Strategies for this Article

  • Activate Prior Knowledge
  • Ask Questions and Make Predictions to Set a Purpose for Reading
  • Reread for Text Details
  • Summarize Main Ideas and Details
  • Make Inferences and Draw Conclusions
  • Make Text-to-Self Connections
  • Make Text-to-Text Connections
  • Make Text-to-the-World Connections
  • Analyze Author's Craft: Identify and Analyze Text Structure
  • (About Reading Strategies)

Building a Robin Nest

banding, instinctively, structure, suitable, building site, fledging, blueprints, sturdy, securely, predators, nestlings, anchor, grass fibers, grams, incubate


Introduce the selection by asking students the following questions:
1. How do robins build a nest?
2. What kinds of natural materials do robins use to build their nest?
3. Where do robins build their nests? Why?
4. How big is a robin's nest?

Create a chart to organize questions about a robin's nest-making process. Write the topic on chart paper: A Robin's Nest-Making Process. List five categories below the topic: Who? Where? When? Why? and How? Use the chart prior to reading the selection to record students' questions and predictions. (Activating Prior Knowledge, Making Predictions and Asking Questions to Set a Purpose for Reading)

Invite students to think about the following questions before reading the selection:
1. If you were a robin searching for a spot for your nest on our school grounds, where would you build and why? Encourage students to share reasons for their responses.
2. Using the natural materials in the area around the school grounds, how would you build the nest? Encourage students to share reasons for their responses.
3. How do you think the following words will be used in an article about the nest-making process of robins: days, weeks, months, years, inches, grams, height, and weight? Encourage students to share reasons for their responses.

Read "Building a Robin Nest." Encourage students to "mark up the text" by circling unfamiliar words, underlining key words and phrases, and writing notes in the margins. Invite them to underline sentences that reveal answers to the preview questions.


Revisit the text to answer questions listed prior to reading. Ask questions to facilitate students' work: Which questions were answered by details in the text? What facts did the article reveal about the nest-making habits of robins? Invite students to generate more questions for further research. (Rereading for Text Details)

Have students reread the selection with a partner. Invite them to create a Concept Map to organize facts from the article. Topic: A Robin's Nest-Making Process. Categories: Who? Where? When? Why? and How. Have students summarize (orally or in writing) the key ideas from the text using their concept map. (Summarizing Main Ideas and Details in the Text)

Revisit the text for math connections. Have students search the reading selection for measurement terms: days, weeks, months, years, inches, grams, weight, height. Invite students to discuss how each of the words relates to robins' nests.

Ask students to investigate grams as a unit of measure using the following questions: What common objects are measured in grams? If a dry robin's nest weighs 205 grams, what common objects are similar in weight? How many ounces would be the same as 205 grams? For example, a 6 oz. can of tuna weighs about 170 grams. (Making Math Connections)

A robin's nest is about 8-20 centimeters in diameter (3-8 inches). Invite students to make circles to show the range of diameters for a robin's nest


Making Connections: Home Sweet Home
1. How do we build sturdy and secure homes? How do we make our homes comfortable and safe? What natural resources are used to make human shelters strong, durable, safe, and comfortable? (Making Text-to-Self Connections)

2. Read other articles and books about the nest-making process of robins and other birds. Related Reading Selection: About Eagle Nests. What other facts about nests did you discover? Compare a robin's nest to an eagle's nest. (Making Text-to-Text Connections)

Library Lookout: Find and read "Strange Nests" by Ann Shepard Stevens. Millbrook Press Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-7613-0413-4 This illustrated picture book examines the nests and nest-building habits of eleven birds common to the continental United States, as well as unusual nests that have been built when normal nesting materials were in short supply.

3. Robins nest in trees, and in nooks and crannies on houses, streetlights, and other man-made structures. One way to help robins is to build a nest platform using the Nest Platform Plans from Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. (Making Text-to-the-World Connections)

Evaluate (Identifying and Analyzing Text Structure)
Authors make decisions about how to present information to readers. They choose from a variety of structures to organize facts. Have students identify which of the following text structures can be found in the reading selection. Encourage them to give examples from the text to support their answers.

Chronological/Sequence: (Time/Order) Chronological articles reveal events in a sequence from beginning to end. Words that signal chronological structures include: first, then, next, finally, and specific dates and times.
Cause/Effect: Informational texts often describe cause and effect relationships. They describe events and identify or imply causal factors.
Problem/Solution: The text introduces a problem and describes solutions.
Compare/Contrast: Authors use comparisons to describe ideas to readers. Similes, metaphors, and analogies are used in compare/contrast organizational structures.
Description: Sensory details help readers visualize information.
Directions: How-to texts frame the information in a series of directions.

Writer's Workshop

  • Descriptive
    Visit Journey North's Robin Nest Photo Study to see photos of the entire nesting cycle of a pair of robins. Use the photos to collect details for writing: What do you see? (colors, shapes, sizes, objects) What sounds do you imagine from the photos? What textures do you imagine? What comparisons can you make? Use the sensory details to write a descriptive paragraph about robins and their nests.
  • Expository
    An author that writes scientific articles does research to become an expert. Research more facts about the nesting habits of robins. Write a fact book for young readers to share your expertise: Nest Sweet Nest.
  • Persuasive
    Help robins be safe during their nesting season. Write a letter for a community newspaper to remind pet owners to keep cats indoors. Learn the facts about cats and birds from the American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors Program
  • Creative
    Authors that write about topics in creative, whimsical ways often start with "What if...Thinking" to spark ideas for writing. Use the following "What if...Wonderstorms" to spark creative writing ideas about robins and their nests:
    What if...a real estate agency hired you to create a marketing campaign for robins? How would you write advertisements for robins' nests?
    What if...a music company hired you to write a song about how robins build their nests?
    What if...a publishing company hired you to write a Step-by-Step Guide for Nest-Making?


Journaling Questions
  • (Making Inferences, Drawing Conclusions)
    1. How do you think the nest-making process of robins differs from how other birds build nests?

    2. Visit Journey North's Robin Nest Study. What new things did you learn? Record observations and discoveries in your journal.

    3. Visit Journey North's Robin Nest Photo Study. What's the most interesting thing you learned? Record observations and discoveries in your journal.

National Science Education Standards

  • An organism's behavior patterns are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and number of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment.
  • Behavior is one kind of response an organism can make to an internal or environmental stimulus.
  • Plants and animals have life cycles that include being born, developing into adults, reproducing, and eventually dying.