One of my favorite things to do in the winter is photograph the birds that come to our feeders. I showed my students some of the photographs that I have taken to introduce the project. I also get Birds and Blooms magazine so I had plenty of bird pictures for them to look at. The students also loved sharing their own winter bird sightings.
We started off making practice sketches of our birds. We brainstormed different ways to sketch them, looking at the basic shapes or at the contours were some ideas. Deep Space Sparkle http://www.deepspacesparkle.com/blog/ is one of my favorite blogs that I go to for inspiration and tips. One of the posts that I read was about not letting children use pencil for their artwork because they draw so small. This is something that I struggle as well. To many times I see my students make these beautifully detailed pencil sketches and then they disappear as soon as they add color. I definitely wanted to give her ideas a try and I thought this project would be perfect.
I wanted to give my students time to practice first with pencil but then when they felt ready I gave them final paper and a black crayon to draw their bird. We talked about strategies for fixing mistakes that were made with black crayon. The kids did great with this. Next I had them outline their crayon in black tempera. This helps their details stand out when they paint. (another tip from deep space sparkle). Next we drew and painted our branches, painted our birds and the final touch, adding snow falling and on the branches. I pre-mixed paint for the bird colors and sat students together by bird with more photos. That way they could really look at the birds patterns and details. I think they turned out great and will definitely keep using crayon and outlining with black paint.