It’s Draw a Bird Day on social media, and we’re taking a moment to connect to nature with a cooperative lesson that offers you an opportunity to unwind, make art and work together.

Getting started

First, some book recommendations:

  • How to Draw a Picture of a Bird written by Jacques Prevert and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
  • The Birdwatchers written and illustrated by Simon James

Second, the setting:

Find a quiet, comfortable outdoor space where you can sit for at least 10 minutes (your own yard will be great)

Next, gather the materials:

  • Some paper (you choose the style)
  • A writing instrument
  • Colored pencils, crayons or paint

Finally, prepare your mind:

1. Leave your distractions behind and find a comfortable place you can sit and enjoy.

2. Then just relax and observe nature. Aim for being silent 10 minutes.

3. Use your senses.

  • What do you see and smell?
  • What do the ground and air feel like?
  • What do you hear?
  • Did you hear any birds?

The activities

For Children 3+

This artwork requires 2 people.

Step 1: Lay a sheet of paper on the ground outside in a sunny spot. Have person 1 create a shadow over the paper by placing the hands next to each other and overlapping the thumbs. If it’s cloudy, you may need another set of hands to shine a flashlight to trace your bird.

Step 2: Have person 2 trace the shadow

Step 3: Once you have your outline, imagine how you will complete your artwork. Will you color the bird, just the area surrounding it or both?

Step 4: Color the picture using paint, crayons or colored pencils. As you create, ask your child to tell you a story about his or her bird creation.

Step 5: Reveal your bird drawing!

Artwork by Noelle M.

For Children 7+

Grab your supplies and get outside! Let your child’s imagination and observations take the lead.

Some prompts.

  • Did you see any birds? Draw a bird that you saw.
  • Only heard them? Imagine how one that you heard might look like to get started.
  • What might a bird from your imagination look like? If you have read the book The Birdwatchers by Simon James, then you know some birds can be imagined.

Cactus Wren by Isaac (age 10).

Continue learning

Take a moment to enjoy your time outside with your child. Once inside, you can continue the activity by researching birds in Arizona and elsewhere online. Your local library – such as Mesa Public Library – is a great place to look for more books on birds.

The above activities were curated by i.d.e.a. Museum Gallery Educators Noelle M. and Monica B. Noelle has a background in Early Childhood Education and helped develop ArtVille Academy, the museum’s school readiness program. Monica coordinates our Artful Tales Experience program.