winter cardinal project for kids how to make bird art

Cardinals in Winter Art Lesson

My second and third graders created this beautiful winter Cardinal art lesson, but it would be appropriate for fourth grade as well. It’s very easy considering how stunning it is. Download my handout below for the instructional guide to help make a quick demonstration on your whiteboard for the kids to get drawing!

Watch the video tutorial here…


  • 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper
  • Light colored oil pastel
  • Light blue, black, red, yellow and white tempera paint (Optional: metallic blue)
  • Q-Tips for snow


This is the picture I sourced from the internet as an example of the cardinal. It’s not necessary to draw the entire body, just the head and neck area. Have the children use a light colored oil pastel to draw with.

Start by folding the paper in half to make a crease going horizontally on your paper. Have the children place their hand above the line near the top and middle of the paper and draw a dot for the birds eye.

Then, draw the beak. Once the beak is in place, it’s easy to draw the cardinal’s crown and head. After drawing the entire bird, draw branches and lines for twigs.

winter cardinal step 1 drawing the cardinal light oil pastel


Set out the light blue paint and paint the background first. This takes the most time; painting carefully around the feathers and twigs.

Try teaching the children the smoothing technique for this part of the project so that their paint doesn’t create big blobs or pale areas throughout the background.

After painting the background, paint the red cardinal, then the yellow beak, brown twigs and then finally, the black mask and outline.

winter cardinal painting the bird red project for kids art craft step 2


Use the white paint and Q-Tip to add a dot for the eye. Create snowflakes throughout the project to make the whole piece stunning!

winter cardinal final step adding white to make snowflakes art for kids

Download my Winter Cardinal step-by-step guide from the December Freebie Pack below…

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Second and Third Grade Winter Art Cardinals…

How to draw and paint a winter cardinal. Great winter art and craft project for kids ages 8-10

Click HERE for more Deep Space Sparkle winter art lessons.

Note: I believe this idea originated from the fabulous Painted Paper Flicker Stream, although it may have come from a link. I’m terrible at organizing my bookmarks, so I apologize to the creator of this beautiful lesson. 

how to make a winter cardinal art lesson for kids

What do you think?

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  • Nellie Mae

    I LOVE THIS!! I will be doing it next year for sure! I have already done winter cardinals this year. 😉

  • Mathmom and family

    I tried this activity with my 8 and 6 year olds today. We had quite a bit of fun. I love that they learned how to make brown by mixing colors. On their own they told me it is like mixing ketchup and relish on a hot dog. 🙂

  • marisa

    I absolutley love your site! It's exactly what I was looking for. I live just south of you in Ventura. My oldest just started kinder this last fall and I want to start volunteering teaching art in her class and your site will be a tremendous help!

  • sleepyhead designs studio

    Great results! I will be trying this in class! I'll post ours when we do it!

  • alexandra

    great job with this blog! i used "how to draw a pig" lesson and it worked out great. i also love "giraffe can't dance". i'm new in business (i started teaching art in October) and very enthusiatic. i hope you won't mind checking out my blog :). keep up the good work!

  • alexandra

    my blog

  • myletterstoemily


    what fun your kids must have!


  • akiko

    Thank you so much for share your art and works. I always love to do art work with my boys and this is great to start!

  • brenda

    How do you make sure the paint doesn’t blend? For example, my kids painted American flags once, and some of my students had pink stripes because the red and white paint mixed. Love your web site!

    • Patty

      Blending wasn’t a problem here, but if it was for you, then you just need to do one thing: make sure the red paint is dry before adding the white snowflakes. This goes with all paint. Also, make sure you use q-tips dipped in thick white tempera paint. if a child uses a paint brush that has water on it, the water will dilute the white paint and make it runny. Hope these tips helps. It’s a beautiful lesson.

      • brenda

        When the paint mixed before, I waited a week and the paint still mixed. Do you recommend that there should be very little water on the brush so the paint won’t mix? Thanks for answering these questions for me. It helps me a lot.

  • T.Dahlby

    What a great lesson! I did this with Grade 5 students and the results are wonderful. I hung them in the hall and have been getting rave reviews. Thanks so much!

  • Pam Holderman

    Just tried this project but changed it a bit. The results are on my blog and I thanked you too. So thanks!

  • Jenifer

    I did this lesson today with 4th graders. They loved it and I loved the lesson, but I was disappointed with their painting abilities, or should I say lack of. I was utterly amazed they couldn’t paint within the lines they drew. How do you get them to paint nice crisp edges between colors?