Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday's Art Smarts: Tropical Bird Sculptures

Prepare yourselves for a picture heavy post. I must've gone slightly crazy with the camera during this project - I guess I felt the need to document every little mundane detail. But! I enjoy pictures, so...

This week I talked to the kids a little bit about 3D art - sculptures. We talked about how a sculpture is different from a 2D picture, that you can look at the piece from many different angles. And we discussed different materials that one could use to make a sculpture: wood, clay, stone...even ice! They really liked that idea and immediately wanted to break out a chainsaw to give it a try. Ahem. No.

And then we decided to make our own! Well, really, who are we kidding? This was the plan from the beginning. But the kids didn't know that ;)

Tropical Bird Sculptures


Colored paper
Black marker (we used a Sharpie)
hole punch
feathers (we got ours at Michaels for $1.99 a bag)
art mat (optional, but I highly recommend one, especially when using the permanent marker)


Step one is to prepare the bird body pieces. Depending on the age of the child, they can do this themselves. For my preschoolers, however, I took care of this step for them.

Fold your colored paper in half.

Cut a half circle shape out of the folded edge (do not use the entire edge, though).

Draw a smaller, full circle on the other side. This smaller circle will be the head, so I used the bird body to judge how large the circle should be.

Cut it out of both sides of the folded paper. You should end up with two smaller circles.

Next, draw wing shapes on the open edge.

Cut them out - you should end up with two wings. Notice the white oval in the picture below - this is the spot where you should cut out the bird's tail. 

Now you're ready!

For this project, I wanted to let my kids experiment with drawing lines. My goal was twofold: I wanted to give the kids an opportunity to use lines to create interesting designs through pattern and repetition. But I also wanted them to practice drawing with a purpose (as opposed to just scribbling), especially Daniel. Plus, this is awesome fine motor practice. 

So, before we even began drawing on the bird pieces, I brought out a practice sheet and showed the kids how to make patterns and designs using lines.

I encouraged them to use short straight lines over and over again, zig-zags, and spirals (even though spirals aren't technically lines, I thought they fit well with this idea. Besides, the kids loved 'em). 

After we filled the practice page with line designs, we turned to our bird pieces. I let them decorate the bodies and heads with lines.

Natalie chose short, straight lines for one side of the head and spirals for the other side. She also drew two small circle-shaped eyes.

Deciding whether or not she wanted to add more to the body...

Daniel did well with this project! I was proud of him because I wasn't sure how well he'd be able to control the marker to make these lines. He was so focused, and it paid off!

He made zig-zags on the bird's body. If you're working with an older child, I would encourage him/her to go into greater detail than Daniel did here. The more repetition you create with these lines, the neater the finished bird will look. 

After you've finished drawing the lines, it's time to assemble the pieces. Fold the body in half along the crease and glue one side of the head to a top corner. Then glue the other side of the head onto the opposite side.

Then glue on the wings - one on each side of the body (note: don't glue the body closed on the inside - that stays open to give the bird some dimension at the end).

Finally, glue the tail onto the back end. The crease in the tail should fit neatly over the crease in the body.


Add glue dots across the wings and tail:

And go for it!

One last step: cut a couple small triangles out of any color you'd like and add those onto the head to create a beak.

Ta Da!

We hung ours up to create a little mobile, although they won't be staying in this room. The kids both want to hang them in their rooms. Which I think is awesome. 

Tropical Bird Sculptures
Natalie, age 4
Daniel, age 3

I hope you guys all have an awesome weekend and thanks for reading!

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  1. I've always loved how young children draw, and these colourful birds look fabulous!

    1. Thank you! It's fun for me to watch them develop from just scribbling (not that long ago) to actually thinking about the things they draw. It's exciting!

  2. These are lovely. Simple yet they give the child something beautiful to keep which they have created all by themselves.

    1. Thanks! I definitely love that they want to keep their art, that they own the stuff they make, you know? That's why I try to make projects as open-ended as possible, so that it's really their's.

  3. That's a neat project. I like the way you talked about the difference between 2D and 3D art as part of the project. When we were studying Greece we made sculptures from zucchini just like Phidias a famous Greek sculptor.

    1. Sculptures from zucchini! That sounds like fun!

  4. They are so sweet. Thanks for linking up to our Parenting Pin-it Party.

  5. That is fantastic - thank you for the step by step photos. Visiting from the pin it party.

    1. You're welcome - glad someone benefited from all those pictures I kept taking ;)

  6. So colorful! A few more and it would really be an impressive mobile.

    1. I agree! Might have to add some friends :)

  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, and I'm glad you liked it! Hope your kiddos do, too :)


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