Activities for

Outside the Window

by Anna Smucker

Compiled by Judy A. Teaford

Smucker, Anna. Outside the Window. Illus. Stacey Schuett. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994.

Summary of picture book: A mother bird describes to her baby birds one day in the life of a little boy whose bedroom window is just within view of the birds' nest. The five curious baby birds notice that the little boy does the same things that they do in a day.

* Author Suggestions for Studying the Book Birds' Nests  *  Easter Nests  *  Honey Macatoonie Nests  *
Bird Seed Cookies  *  Birds and Beaks  *  Abandoned Bird Nests  *

Author Suggestions for Studying the Book

Perhaps the younger children, Grades K through Grade 2, who will hear OUTSIDE THE WINDOW could draw pictures or write their own stories or poems about something they have seen, or might see, outside a window. One school I visited had the children really use their imaginations on this. I remember one boy’s drawing of sea-life seen through the round window of a submarine, and another’s view of space as seen through the window of a rocket ship. Students might make little books of their own with a title such as OUTSIDE MY (THEIR CHOICE—SUBMARINE, SPACE SHIP, CASTLE, SCHOOL, BUS, BEDROOM, etc.) WINDOW. Each page of the book might have the words, “I see . . . “  with the students writing what they might see outside such a window. They could then illustrate each page. If you are studying the book in the spring, OUTSIDE THE WINDOW lends itself to many “bird” and “bird nest” types of activities.

Birds' Nests


4 cups chow mein noodles

3 cups miniature marshmallows

3 tablespoons butter

30 small jellybeans



  1. Line a cookie sheet with foil and grease with spray-on cooking oil.

  2. Pour noodles into a large bowl.

  3. Melt the butter and marshmallows over medium heat, stirring until smooth.

  4. Pour marshmallow mixture over noodles, stirring until well coated.

  5. Rub some butter on hands and form noodle mixture into six round balls.

  6. Place balls on prepared cookie sheet.

  7. With the back of a teaspoon, press the center of each ball to make a hollow indentation.

  8. Let nests set until they are firm.

  9. Fill each with small jelly beans. (Other small candies of your choice may be substituted, such as M & M's, small gumdrops, chocolate-covered raisins, chocolate-covered peanuts, etc.)

Makes 6 nests

Easter Nests


1 jar (7 oz) marshmallow creme
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 can (5 oz) chow mein noodles
1 cup pastel M & M's = 20
confectioner's sugar
pastel peanut M & M's


  1. In a mixing bowl, beat marshmallow creme, peanut butter and butter until smooth.

  2. Fold in noodles and M&M's.

  3. Chill until easy to handle.

  4. On waxed paper, form mixture by 1/3 cupfuls into 3-inch nests.

  5. Chill for 30 minutes.

  6. Dust with confectioner's sugar.

  7. Place several peanut M&M's in each nest.

(I do not add the M &M's into the mixture - just for cost reasons. I also use those spotted, malt eggs instead of peanut M & M's. They are bigger and the children only need two or three in their nest. Finally, I do not chill after they form the mixture into a nest. I usually send them home with the children on the same day. The children love making them.)

Yields 9 servings

Honey Macatoonie Nests


3 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup flour

Stir in a large bowl; set aside.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter or margarine

4 tablespoons honey

 jelly beans


  1. Put honey, sugar and butter into a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring often.

  2. Mix with dry ingredients.

  3. For each nest, press 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of this mix into greased muffin tins.

  4. Press 2 or 3 jelly beans into the center of each "nest".

  5. Bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes, until well browned.

  6. Cool.

Makes about 33 "Nests"

Bird Seed Cookies (nonedible for humans)


2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup lard or margarine (Make sure there is NO salt in it!)

2 eggs

2/3 cup or more small Wild Bird Seeds


2 egg whites – for wash

extra bird seeds to press on top of "cookies"



  1. Sift dry ingredients together.

  2. Cut in shortening until crumbly.

  3. Add eggs; mix until dough is firm.

  4. Add small bird seeds; knead until smooth.

  5. Chill overnight, wrapped in waxed paper and in a plastic bag.

  6. With a small group of children, roll some dough out on a lightly floured surface, to 1/4" thickness.

  7. Let them cut out shapes, make holes at top (with a short piece of straw) for string or wool to be threaded through.

  8. Brush with slightly beaten egg white; press more seeds over top of each cookie.

  9. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes, until cookies are hard.

  10. Remove from pan; cool.

  11. Have an adult lace some string or wool bits through the "straw hole" and tie the loops shut so the "cookies" can be hung like a Christmas ornament.

  12. Hang outside during frosty weather, safe from cats.


Birds and Beaks

The objective of the lesson is to determine which bird beaks are best suited to eat different kinds of food. The children use tweezers, toothpicks, clothespins and spoons to simulate bird beaks and various materials like yarn, rubber bands, styrofoam pieces, or marbles, to simulate food. Each child is given a cup of mixed foods and a beak. Divide in groups and allow the children 1 minute to "eat" as much food as they can. Then compare the types of foods obtained by the various types of beaks (birds of prey, song birds, waterfowl and sea birds). You can also show pictures of the different bird groups before you begin the lesson. It's a great hands-on experience!

Abandoned Bird Nests

If you can locate abandoned bird nests, bring in some for the children to investigate. Put the nests in plastic bags with some paper towels soaked in ammonia; close up for a day or two. (This is supposed to kill the "lice" and germs.) You can also cook them in the oven on low for a period of time to do the same thing. Have the children look, discuss, and list the things they see being used before taking the nest apart. Then start taking them apart and continue the discussion and listing. Children are really amazed at what is in the nests.

This Page Created:  10/14/2001
Last Update:  05/07/2008 03:32:27 PM

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