Chalk Bird Art Project


Chalk pastels give the dramatic color intensity of tempera or acrylic paint with almost no prep time. Chalk gets a bad rap as being too messy. For the little ones, it can be. Persuading mounds of dust into intricate corners is not for the impatient student. That’s why most of my chalk projects occur after 5th grade.

For this chalk bird lesson, I gave a brief explanation of the basics for drawing birds. I encouraged the kids to use their own ideas for composition; small bird/large tree, close-up view, etc.

With the visual help of black/white drawings of birds (which I found in a reference book), the children drew their sketches with black oil pastel. After coloring with chalk, a final tracing of oil pastel gave the picture the finished look. Most important step, by the way!

I use school-grade chalk pastels. Basically, the cheapest ones. What happens with the cheaper brands is that they kick up a bit more dust. Children handle this by tapping the extra chalk bits onto the floor and applying a second coat if necessary. I’ve used better brands (like Prismacolor) and they really are SO much better, but who can afford them? Chalk disappears fast, so I’ve never felt the need to invest in a higher quality, and with the results shown here, why bother?


I’ve used hair spray as a fixative before but since my chalk is of such a low-grade, the hairspray tends to cut right through the chalk particles and creates a blotchy appearance where there was none before.

This year I tried a proper fixative and the results were much better. The best solution? Use newspaper to encase the artwork. It’s free and keeps the project intact until mom and dad decide what to do with it.

Sixth Grade Chalk Bird Drawings

How to draw a bird and color with chalk pastels

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  • stephanie

    These are stunning. I want to make one!

  • gilat

    these are ready to frame !

  • Denise Pannell

    GORGEOUS colors!!

    I am kinda going through a bird phase right now, as seen on my blog:

    I will definitely be trying this!

  • Janie B

    Very good results. I love working with chalk, and birds are one of my favorite topics in all mediums.

  • Janis

    These are fun! I love working with chalk pastels. What brand do you use?

    • Patty

      No brand in particular. Just a hodge-podge of the cheapest sets out there!

  • Teresa

    HI Patti,
    I’m a primary teacher in British Columbia – have used your site a LOT and recommended it to other colleagues. Since your change up to this new format, I am having frustrations getting to see the ‘list’ of topics – ie 1st grade, 2nd grade, etc – that alphabetical list that used to be down the left hand side. Is it just me? Possibly, since I’m not a tech person, sad to say. Now, I click on Art Lessons, and it only shows on my screen down to D or F, and then to scroll down to see more, the box closes out. Is it something I am doing wrong – how do I scroll down to look at all the options? Love your ideas and use them so much. Thanks!

    • Patty

      Hi Teresa,
      Thanks for your note. I’m glad my site has been helpful. I’m not sure why you can’t access the menu bar, but it’s designed so that you get to scroll down the art lessons menu and select your category. For instance, if you are looking for second grade art projects, hover your mouse over ART Lessons in teh menu bar. Move your mouse down until you see Second Grade and then not only will you see a Post Title, but also an image and a brief description.
      It’s possible you might be using an old browser. Try Firefox or Chrome.
      Hope this helps!

  • Denise Pannell

    Told you I was going to try this!

    I am also linking this lesson on my blog:

    Fabulous lesson- my kiddos loved it!

  • Mary

    Were your chalk birds done on black paper or white? I see some black in the colors but maybe is from the oil pastel?

    • Patty

      Yes, Mary. Black paper. I find the colors aren’t nearly as intense with white paper. Glad you asked as I don’t have the exact supplies listed.

  • Cheryl


    I found your website very helpful. I always change projects up a little from year to year, but am feeling a need for even greater change this year. I am never at a loss for finding new projects to try, but most of the time I like just part of the instructions- knowing the other part just isn’t right for me or my students. Your projects seem very similar to the kind of things I like to do with my classes.
    I remember reading somewhere at the beginning of my teaching not to do anything that you wouldn’t like to do if you were still a kid!
    This is what I try and remember when I look at lessons thatI know have certain art teaching values- the one where the adult in me says”Oh that’s a good lesson for them to learn!”- and then the kid in me says “How boring!” Anyway… thanks!

    A couple of questions that I hope that you might provide some insight with…
    A little background- I have been teaching K-8th Art for 13 years now (about 400 students a week (approx- 25 students per class- 40 min. each). My room is a very small space with no sink ! (a converted library room). When we paint-which is not very often- I usually use tempera set out in tays/cups or watercolor sets. We bring in water in cut off half gal. plastic milk containers. I usually end up washing out all the brushes. I would love to try to use the liquid watercolors on several things, but am not sure whether it is going to be economically feasible for me to do so. How much do you usually use up during a normal classtime project?
    Also, I am intriqued by all of your use of the chalk pastels, and oil. I have always used oil pastels, which the kids love. Do you recomend the soft chalk pastel sets? I read that you use both the oil and chalk. Do you ever use just the oil pastels only on a project? I know that I could just use oil pastel on the projects that you use the chalk- am not sure of the benefits of the chalk pastels vs. oil economically?! Any input that you coul give me would be appreciated!
    I love to use Nasco with our discount! Also like Discount School Supply for the price and some different things!
    Sincere thanks!

  • Moira

    I absolutely love these bird drawing and plan on doing them after Spring Break in April. Would you recommend 12 x 18 black construction paper or 9 x 12?



    • Patty

      A smaller paper means a smaller picture and because the medium is chalk and oil pastel, it’s better to have more room to work with. I like the larger size. But, the project will be completed faster with a smaller paper. If you have lots of time, don’t worry.

  • Julia Dennis

    I love the results! Using the black oil pastels really helps to keep the shapes defined. I will be trying this with my after school class, thanks!

  • Lauren

    I went and used you as inspiration again! https://artlittlebennett.wordpress.com/2015/02/05/5th-grade-birds/ 🙂

  • oeves

    This is a cute and amazing drawing for 1st graders to practice drawing!! Great work!:)

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