Winter Bird Art Lesson


Lois Ehlert’s book, Snowballs, is yet another inspiring book for elementary school art lessons. Instead of the featured snowmen, I gravitated towards the wonderful winter bird in birch trees. I created bird templates before for my “Pie in the Sky” art lesson and was excited to use them again.

For those of you who don’t like templates, please don’t feel you must use them for this project. It’s just as easy to have children draw their birds. I do have many second graders who are considered “low” so the templates really helps their fine-motor skills plus it keeps them on par with other children. They do notice these little things and they feel quite empowered with their handsome cut-out birds.


Colored 9″ x 12″ background paper, black & white oil pastels, 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper, liquid watercolors, table salt, strips of white drawing paper, black tempera paint, cardboard rectangles (cut from tagboard).

Making the Bird

Steps 1, 2, 3, and 4-Winter Bird Art LessonMaking the birch trees

Steps 5 and 6- Winter Bird Art Lesson

Second grade students love Lois Ehlert!

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  • hope

    i like the bright yellow backgrounds – a fresh approach to the birch tree painting! lois ehlert has the best books! thanks for sharing.

    • Patty

      I agree…Lois Ehlert is the best!

  • Mary

    I love this lesson Patty! I like the different color backgrounds against the patterned birds. I will definitely try this sometime!

  • Megan Swartz

    What a beautiful project! I love it. I can see tie ins with artist, Charley Harper. Very cool ideas…thanks once again for sharing.


  • Naomi

    Your site is just such a treat and inspiration on so many levels—thank you so much!!!

  • Angie

    Did the students draw their own bird shapes? Or did you have a pre-made stencil made for them? By the way… Thank you so very much for sharing your classroom. You have kept me inspired and made life a little easier for my first year teaching. I’m hoping to start my own blog one day.

    • Angie

      Woah… Maybe I should have read the blog and not just looked at the pictures 🙂 I answered my own question.

      • Patty Palmer

        No worries! We’re visual people!

  • Kim Hyman

    Just posted my interpretation of this project on to my NEW blog. Love this and also tried it with second grades. We put on blue paper and then black so we could enlarge the project area. I also let them use hole punches to create snow which they place on dots of glue. Good eye-hand coordination. They turned out lovely.

  • Mary


  • artwithmsk

    I did this project with my 2nd graders and it was a huge hit! Teachers all over the school commented on how beautiful the artwork was. Thanks for the great idea!

  • Vix kids

    Wow I’m so happy I came across your site. Beautiful work, and so generously shared. Thankyou.we are adapting this to work with Luke 12:24 for our bible class. I haven’t come across the book you are referencing, but it reminds me a little of Ezra jack Keats who I have noticed you’ve also used. Love those books too. I’ll be including link info to you as I’m sure every parent will be asking! Blessings.

  • Roxanne Anderson

    Very nice!

  • tricia

    Hi Patty,

    these are really beautiful! Did you put the templates for the birds on line please? I cant find them,



  • Catherine Touze

    I am an artist and also art teacher for children in France, I am very happy to look at your website, where I can find many ideas, easily done and whith a few materials.
    This one is so cute and impressive!
    Thank you.

    • Patty Palmer

      Thanks so much for stopping by! This lesson is great at Christmas time. Makes the cutest cards.

  • Anne

    In step 5 you say “use paper strips, and then it says use cardboard for the trees”. Could you explain this.

    • Patty Palmer

      Yes. Cut the white paper strips first so you have the trees cut out before you start painting the black texture with the cardboard/black paint onto the white strips.
      Does this help?

  • Loraine Edmeston

    Beautiful and so inspiring. Thanks

  • Kristen

    I love this! I’ve made birds with my daughter before, but this is another fun use of the same template. She also used the template with scrapbook papers to make a birthday card. Thanks so much for the fun ideas.

  • Lynne Shinohara

    This Lois Ehlert bundle is what I have wanted to do for a long time. I am a member and would like it as my bundle for this month so I can prep it well ahead of time. for Holiday cards to parents. but how? Lynne Shinohara Lynnis99@gmail.com

    • Patty

      Hi Lynne,
      There isn’t a Lois Ehlert bundle (at least yet!) in the Sparklers Club. I do have many of her lessons…mostly in the Winter Art Bundle and Art & Lit Bundle and Marine & Sea Life Bundle. I would also ask your question inside the Sparklers Facebook Group. Sparklers will be able to give you lots of tips!
      Request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/312027762462393/

  • Betty C. Rivera

    Our K-4 graders were very excited about this lesson! We read the storybook to the K and 1st graders first. They were excited to see the crayon resist and They loved pouring on the salt and watching the reaction. It was a novelty for them to use a piece of cardboard to paint the birch trees and overall, they all turned out beautifully!! Thank you !!!

    • Patty

      So happy to hear this…art is so magical for kids. I’m glad you can step back and see this. It’s truly the best part of teaching art 🙂

  • Betty C. Rivera

    Another note, the Kindergarten teacher used the bird templates and the leftover painted papers to make more birds and used them to decorate the class christmas tree!

  • Claudette L McAllister

    Art is very good for your brain. I love teaching kids to unleash their creative genius! They are always so amazed by what they can do. As a first grade teacher, showing kids that they “can” be creative is the door to showing them that they “can” learn to read and write and think deeply. I love your lessons and your website. Thank you for being you.

  • Liz

    Hi Patty,
    The link for the templates doesn’t seem to be working.
    I would love to make these with my class, where can I find the template?

    Many Thanks

    • Team Sparkle

      Hi Liz,

      The lesson steps and instructions are in the post itself.
      The clickable link for the download is for extra Holiday project ideas.
      Hope this helps!


  • Geraldine

    It’s very beautiful ! Thanks for the idea. I’m a french teatcher. 🙂 Have a nice day !

  • Kacy

    Amazing work by the children!

  • Amanda

    Love your lessons. I know this is an older post but do you still have a way for me to access the templates for this lesson, “Winter Bird Art Lesson”. I can’t see to find the template in the extra holiday and when I went to purchase the “Pie in the Sky” art lesson for the template it would not allow me to (I think that lesson may have been removed from the shop).

    • Bethany

      Hi Amanda! The Winter Bird lesson doesn’t have a pdf download attached to it. The directions are included in the blog post. The Pie in the Sky lesson is for sale still in the shop through the link in the post. I was using the Safari browser and was able to add it to my cart and check out. Our website works well with the Safari and Chrome browser. Enjoy

  • Sarah

    where can I find the templates for the bird cut outs?? Love this!!

    • Bethany

      Hi Sarah! Thanks so much for your interest in the lesson. The bird template and full lesson can be found only inside The Sparklers’ Club. The Sparklers’ Club is an affordable and flexible pay as you go monthly membership—perfect for anyone who teaches art to students aged K-7. To join the Sparklers’ Club waitlist and learn more about The Sparklers’ Club click here: https://deepspacesparkle.lpages.co/the-sparklers-club-waitlist/

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