BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail

Students create a paper sculpture bird using a paper plate, paint and construction paper.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts


attach fold half sponge


Crayola Washable Glue Sticks Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Crayola Scissors Crayola Project Paint Crayola Construction Paper Paper Plates - 1 per student Small Sponges - 3 cm x 3 cm (1" x 1") - 1 per student Water Containers Paper Towels Hole Punch

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BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step One

Step One

  1. Fold a paper plate in half.
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Use a small sponge to paint the paper plate.
  2. Use more than one colour.
  3. Notice how the sponge makes different textures.
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Choose 2 strips of coloured construction paper for the legs. 
  2. Accordion fold the paper to make the legs bouncy.
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Make a tracer for the feet.
  2. Use the tracer to trace 2 feet on a piece of coloured paper.
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Cut a space about 1 cm (1/2") around the traced foot. This makes it easier to hold when you are cutting on the line. 
  2. Cut out the two feet. 
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Six

Step Six

  1. Glue feet and legs together.
BIRD WATCHING – Colour, Contrast, Detail - Step Seven

Step Seven

  1. Add other decorations to the bird to show eyes or feathers
  2. Punch a hole in the middle of the folded plate
  3. Add a string.
  4. Hang your bird.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a realistic or fantasy paper sculpture bird;
  • use a variety of paper sculpture techniques to add details and physical characteristics;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.


  1. Display all birds on a wall.
  2. Have books such as Backyard Birding for Kids by Fra Lee available for reference.
  3. Each student can create their own binoculars from two paper rolls 15 cm long (6")
  4. Glue the two roles together. Let dry. 
  5. Punch a hole on each side of the paper rolls using a one-hole punch. 
  6. Tie string through the holes so the binoculars hang around the neck.
  7. Use these binocukars to observe the birds displayed on the wall.
  8. Ask the students to find one bird and share what they see that is interesting about that one bird. 


  1. Download images of birds from the Internet, for example,
    Blue Jay
  2. Gather and make available books about birds, for example, Birds: Fun Facts For Kids, by Marco Dragovic; Birds, by Kevin Henkes; Birds, Nests & Eggs, by Mel Boring; About Birds: A Guide for Children, by Cathryn Sill; and Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, by Annette LeBlanc Cate.
  3. Prior to this lesson have students practise tracing and cutting small shapes from a large piece of paper.
    - place tracer about 3 cm (1") from the edge of the paper, not in the centre of the paper
    - cut about 1 cm (1/2")  around each shape before cutting on the lines to make the paper easier to hold and cut.


  1. Read the book Look Up!: Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, by Annette LeBlanc Cate to introduce students to 'careful looking'.  
  2. View bird images from the Internet and in picture books guiding students to look carefully to see similarities and differences among the varieties.
  3. Discuss and make a chart list of the physical characteristics of birds, for example, beak; claws; 2 legs; 2 wings; tail; feathers.
  4. Discuss the various colours and special markings found on the birds.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a realistic or fantasy paper sculpture bird.
  2. Use a variety of paper sculpture techniques to add details and physical characteristics.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  4. Support your ideas with evidence found in the artworks.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I have been successful when i have:
    - created a sculpture that has physical characteristics of a bird (beak, wings, tail, 2 legs)
    - added details to the bird with folding paper techniques 
    - kept the sculpture in good condition
    - used a variety of colour and textures to add interest to the sculpture
  3. Guide your students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work.
  5.  Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all birds are completed ask the students to group themselves according to real birds or fantasy birds.
  2. Guide them into these groups. 
  3. Once they are grouped have them share:
    - Why they chose this type of bird.
    - Why they chose the colours they used.
    - What physical characteristics they notice on the birds.
    - What sound they think the bird would make.
    - What they would do differently next time.
    - What they liked best about making their bird.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their birds – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the bird, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads – Bird_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads – Bird_self-assessment.pdf)