Think Outside The (Nest) Box


Thinking Outside of the (Nest) Box is an educational resource created by NestWatch, a participatory science program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This curriculum will introduce grades 5–8 to the world of nesting birds and engage youth in STEM learning and participatory science through the construction, installation, and monitoring of nest boxes.

The activities in Thinking Outside of the (Nest) Box will introduce youth to the life cycle of nesting birds and provide instructions for building and installing nest boxes, which in turn will will enable students to engage in participatory science projects and report their observations of nesting birds to the NestWatch program. Five activities are included which cover:

  • building and installing nest boxes,
  • habitats,
  • life cycles,
  • proper monitoring and observation of nesting birds, and
    data collection and analysis.

Make one birdhouse as a class, or one per student—it’s your choice. You’ll get students outdoors to peek into a wild bird’s nest, collect data, make predictions from information presented in graphs, and ask questions based on your unique habitat. The lessons align with Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards for grades 5–8.

If you cannot print these resources or simply prefer a full-color printed copy, please email for a free copy (shipped within the US and Canada, while supplies last).

Additional Resources

Activity 1 Resources:

NestWatch Slideshow

Activity 2 Resources:

Video 1: How to assemble a nest box

Video 2: How to install a nest box

Nest Check Data Sheet

Activity 3 Resources:

NestWatch Slide from Activity 1

NestWatch Bingo Cards

Activity 4 Resources:

NestWatch Slide from Activity 1

Video 3: How to check a nest

Activity 5 Resources:

NestWatch Slide from Activity 1