CARDINALS AND BLUE JAYS – Colour, Shape, Detail

Students create relief prints using wooden circles and then add details with markers to change the shapes into blue jays and cardinals.

Required Time

40 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts



Crayola Washable Paint Crayola Paint Brushes Crayola Fine Line Markers Crayola Painting Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Round Wooden Circles Water Containers Paper Towels

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CARDINALS AND BLUE JAYS – Colour, Shape, Detail - Step One

Step One

  1. Brush a thin layer of paint on the wooden circle.
  2. Press the wooden circle paint side down on the paper.
  3. Remove the circle to see your print.
  4. Print 1 or 2 red circles and 1 or 2 blue circles.
  5. Each circle will be a bird.
CARDINALS AND BLUE JAYS – Colour, Shape, Detail - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Look at pictures of cardinals and blue jays.
  2. Use markers to add details.
    - crest
    - wings
    - tail
    - legs
    - feet
    - beak
    - eyes
CARDINALS AND BLUE JAYS – Colour, Shape, Detail - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Check to see you have added lots of details.
  2. Describe how you made your picture.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create a picture of cardinals and blue jays using markers and washable paint prints;
  • use line and colour to add appropriate details;
  • work independently and self-regulate;
  • share their ideas with peers; 
  • demonstrate a sense of accomplishment.



Have students:

  • create a cardinal or blue jay finger puppet using the Finger Puppets lesson plan available on this website;
  • work in small groups to make a puppet show about cardinals and blue jays;
  • create a video of their puppet show;
  • share their video with the class.


  1. Download and display the Colour and Shape posters available on this website.
    - review or teach the element of shape – geometric, organic
    - review or teach the element of colour – primary colours
  2. Gather and make available books about Canadian birds including blue jays and cardinals, for example, Birds, by Kevin Henkes, and Laura Dronzek; Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, and Sarah S. Brannen; Birds, Nests & Eggs, by Mel Boring; National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America, Second Edition, by Jonathan Alderfer; Blue Jays, by Lisa J Amstutz; and Cardinals Library, by Lisa J Amstutz, and Gail Saunders-Smith.
  3. Set up a creativity centre with pictures of cardinals and blue jays; paint brushes; markers; drawing paper; wooden circles; washable paint; water containers; and paper towels. 
  4. Provide time for students to explore characteristics of birds and especially cardinals and blue jays.


  1. Conduct a read aloud with the book Cardinals, by Lisa J Amstutz, and Gail Saunders-Smith focusing on the characteristics of cardinals.
  2. View images of a blue jay and a cardinal side by side guiding students to look carefully to see similarities and differences between the two birds.
  3. Discuss and make a chart list of the physical characteristics of the two birds, for example,
    - crest
    - beak
    - claws
    - 2 legs
    - 2 wings
    - tail
    - feathers

    - colour and markings
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create a picture of cardinals and blue jays using markers and paint prints.
  2. Use line and colour to add bird details.
  3. Use your own ideas.
  4. Share your ideas with others.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a picture of blue jays and cardinals
    - made wood circle prints with paint
    added details with markers that show the kind of bird it is
    - used my own ideas
    - kept the paper in good condition 
  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. Gather students to view and discuss their pictures. Ask students to share:
    what they learned about making a wooden circle print
    how they used different shapes and lines to add 'bird' details to the circle prints
    - what they learned about blue jays and cardinals
    - what they like best about their pictures
  2. Display all the pictures in the classroom.
  3. Encourage students to view the pictures and notice how they are the same and how they are different.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their artworks – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to picture, 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 - BlueJaysCardinals_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - BlueJaysCardinals_self-assessment.pdf)