Create a swallow migration journey wheel

Some of the birds we see in Scotland and in our gardens have travelled thousands of miles to get there! For example, swallows travel 200 miles a day to get from Scotland to their winter homes in Africa. Swallows go to Africa during the winter months to enjoy the warmer weather and more food. Now, as they follow the journey that has been happening for thousands of years, they are facing new challenges and threats…

You can find out more about swallows here


Barn swallows on telegraph wire (c) Alan Price/Gatehouse Studios

Follow the migration journey of a swallow in this journey wheel. See how it travels all the way from South Africa to Scotland and learn about the challenges birds face as they travel around the globe!

What you will need:

  • Printed activity sheet
  • Scissors
  • Colouring pencils
  • A pin and small bit of blue tac (optional)

How to make your swallow migration journey wheel

  1. Print out the attached worksheet.
  2. Colour in the pictures that illustrate the swallow’s migration journey in wheel number one.
  3. Cut out the two wheels and cut out the hole in wheel number two. An adult might need to help with cutting out the hole in wheel number two as it can be a bit fiddly.
  4. Place the second wheel over the first wheel and attach them together in the centre using a pin. Add a bit of blue tac to the pointy bit of the pin after it has poked through so there is nothing sharp. If you do not have pins, you can leave them unattached and just move the wheel around or find another object like a pencil to insert through the middle.
  5. Go on the journey of a swallow’s migration and learn about the challenges migrating birds face by moving the hole around the wheel and reading the story for each section.

Eight chapters of the swallow migration wheel:

  1. It is April and the swallows are in South Africa, it is now time to migrate back to Scotland.
  2. The swallows start their migration journey, flying long days in the sky, hoping for good weather, but extreme weather is becoming more common due to climate change.
  3. They need to cross the Sahara Desert, but the area is getting dryer and bigger. It is a long and difficult crossing with little food.
  4. The swallows must keep up their energy because now they must fly over the sea to get to Europe!
  5. But more and more man-made obstacles are appearing that they must avoid – like offshore oil rigs and windfarms.
  6. Large birds of prey also wait in the cliffs for the perfect moment to swoop for them!
  7. The swallows have made it past all these challenges – they are very tired and hungry now. They usually stop in a wetland for a snack, but the wetland has been built upon!
  8. Hooray – the swallow has finally arrived in Scotland! Hopefully, there are enough insects here to eat and enough mud to build a nest


Share your migration wheel with us by using #DiscoverLearnPlay



Time to complete

45 mins

Suitable for age

Suitable location

Curriculum linked

Expressive arts (Art and design)

Social studies (People, place and environment)

Sciences (Planet Earth)


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