Teaching Suggestions
Robins and the Seasons
The Annual Cycle of the American Robin
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Month by month, where are robins and what are they doing? The facts and photos in this slideshow showcase the annual cycle of the American robin. Choose from an array of activities to explore how robins respond to the seasons. Discover ways to document the changes you observe throughout the year.

Essential Question
What is the annual cycle of the American robin?


Photo Gallery of The Robin's Annual Cycle
The Annual Cycle

Start With Wonder

Explore Month-by-Month Images
Use the images in the photo gallery to wonder aloud about where robins are and what they are doing at various times of the year:

  • Where are robins during winter?
  • What do winter robins eat?
  • How do robins know when it's time to migrate?
  • When does nesting begin?
  • What are backyard robins doing in July?

Create Wonder Rings
As students explore the photos and facts, have them write questions on index cards. Punch a hole in each card. Insert the cards onto a metal o-ring. As students learn about robins, encourage them to add fact sentences to their wonder rings.


Wonder Rings

Wonder Rings

Showcase the Cycle

Select from these activities to extend learning:

Calendar Handout
Challenge students to showcase what robins do throughout the year by writing month-by-month verbs on the calendar handout. This sheet can also be used for note-taking or assessment.

Hallway Timeline
After exploring the photos and text as a class, create a large timeline to showcase the month-by-month events of the robin's annual cycle. As you track this season's migration, add your own backyard observations to the timeline. Will your observations match the expected events of the annual cycle or will you see unexpected surprises? Report observations to Journey North.

Annual Cycle Wheel
Display and discuss the sample annual cycle wheel. Give your students a design challenge: How would you showcase the significant month-by-month events of the robin's annual cycle on a circular wheel? What words and images would you use to showcase where robins are and what they are doing throughout the year?

Seasonal Circle Book
Make a circle book to showcase the cyclical events by season (fall, winter, spring, summer). Encourage students to revisit the slideshow's facts and photos to construct their circle book. Display books in your school's library.

Cause-Effect Flow Charts
Sunlight drives seasonal change. Choose key events from the annual cycle and explore cause-effect relationships by creating flow charts. Draw boxes and arrows to showcase the chain of events that start with sunlight changes. Example: Nest-building Chain of Events: Sun, Warmer Temps, Ground Thaws, Snow Melts, Mud for Nest-building

Other Showcase Challenges
Have students synthesize what they learned about the robin's annual cycle by designing flip books, desktop calendars, lapbooks, file folder games, or accordian books.


Annual Cycle Calendar
Calendar Handout
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Annual Cycle Wheel

Annual Cycle Wheel
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http://www.learner.org/jnorth/images/graphics/tnail/annual_flow_chart_tn.gifCause-Effect Chart
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Track this Season's Migration  
Report Observations to Journey North
Month by month, what are American robins doing where you live? Note the timing of annual cycle events and report your sightings. All observations contributed by citizen scientists help raise questions and build scientific understanding.
Report Robin Observations