Sometimes digressions can be interesting too: of terror birds and Haast’s eagles

JasminL holding printouts of information that she looked up about 'Haast's Eagle and Terror birds' after sharing what she'd learned about both with her classmates.

A few weeks ago, our P2 classes were finishing up reading The Tail of Reepicheep, a children’s book whose story ties into the latest Narnia movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. We spent a few moments talking about one of the trailers that had been released onto the Web to promote the film. It featured scenes of giant eagles (who sided with the good guys, naturally) dropping huge boulders onto enemy forces.

The extremely large birds had captivated some of the students and the subject of giant birds was briefly taken up.

We recalled that there had, until relatively recently (about 600 years ago), actually been quite large eagles (beasts with wingspans of 8-10 feet) in New Zealand (Haast’s Eagle). Much earlier, what is now South America (and parts of N. America as well) was graced with the presence of enormous flightless carnivorous birds (Terror birds). After a brief description of both types of creature, and a slew of questions from our students, we promised to email their parents with links and information on both topics.

The next week, JasmineL brought a veritable treasure trove of printouts of images and articles on both topics, traced from sources we’d shared, and we invited her to stand in the front of the room and share what she’d learned with her classmates. Much was learned by all.