Odd One Out

Perfect pinchers

15 mins
Ages 9 – 11
Topics: Animals, including humans, Living things and their habitats, Evolution and inheritance

Spark a conversation with these three different beaks. 

Run the activity in 5 steps


This activity is great for promoting observation and discussion skills, what will your class notice about these three different birds?

(If the class are familiar with Odd One Out skip this step)

Ask everyone to look or move around the classroom and point out two things that are similar, then two things that are different. Ask a few pupils share their ideas, emphasising there are no wrong answers. 

Explain that today you would like pupils to use these skills to help you work out what might be the odd one out between three different items.


Show the three images up on the screen. Ask everyone to come up with as many similarities and differences among the three images as they can. If they get stuck, prompt them to think about:

  • appearance
  • what they do
  • where they might be found


Capture all the ideas, you might try one of these methods:

  • whiteboard notes of the class' suggestions
  • ask your class to pair up and write down their answers


Explain that now everyone needs to decide which one they think is the odd one out and why. Give them a short time to think or discuss in partners or small groups before sharing their odd one out. Remind them that they must clearly explain their reasons.


Discuss as a class. Explore the pupils' answers, one image at a time, showing how each picture could be the odd one out. What did they think about there being no wrong answer?

Background science

The three birds in the images are a puffin, a lapwig and a macaw. Some puffins shed part of their colourful beaks in winter, leaving a smaller, less colourful one behind that will grow through the rest of the year. Puffins dive down to great depths to catch fish, their staple diet. Their beaks have backward pointing spines so they can store rows of fish in their mouths without swallowing them. They also use their beaks as picks and shovels to build burrows when they return to land to breed in spring. The lapwing bird is found on farmland across the UK. Their long pointed beak acts like tweezers to precisely pick up small insects and worms. The macaw is a type of parrot and has a very hard, strong beak which can crack open nuts. They like to chew on things like trees to keep their beaks healthy.

Most birds are insectivores, that is, they eat insects, but across the world birds can be found that eat meat, plants and fruit. A bird's beak is actually an extenstion of its skull, and you can find nostrils on the upper beak. The beak itself is made of a hard, keratin substance, similar to our fingernails. 

Take it further

Charles Darwin studied birds in the Galapagos islands when he was putting together his Theory of Evolution. This STEM activity takes a closer look at these birds – known as Darwin's finches, due to the remarkable diversity of their beaks. Watch another bird getting its dinner in an interesting way with this What's Going On? activity.