to our area. They made observations about the shapes of the beaks,
wings, and color variations between
male and female birds and compared
and contrasted bird characteristics.
At this point, I identified the artist
and explained his importance to
the beginnings of the conservation
movement in the United States. We
discussed challenges that birds face
and the importance of maintaining
habitats for them.
Students each selected a bird from
books and visuals I provided. I asked
that each choose a bird that is indigenous to our state and that it be a
small to medium-sized bird that one
might see on a bird feeder.
On paper, students drew an outline of the chosen bird. They transferred the outline to thin foam core
board (relatively inexpensive, easy
to cut, and moves with the slight-est air current). Wings were drawn
separately on the foam core board,
cut out with a craft knife (I do this
part as necessary), placed on top of
the body (notched and recessed if
desired), and secured into place by
two straight pins.
Some birds can be two-dimensional, especially tree-climbers like
woodpeckers or chickadees. Color
was applied by layering on colored
tissue paper with paste (
watered-down glue, clear papier-mâché art
paste, or matte medium).
Branches from which the birds
would hang were cut to interlock
for added strength. Joints were reinforced with pins or string. One large
“plus-shaped” branch was needed
for the top (about 12" [ 30 cm] long);
the number of smaller ones was
dependent on the number of birds.
You might also want to add a trunk-shaped piece to hang in the center
for tree climbers.
When the birds were dry, we put
a straight pin in the top of each
and attached a 12" piece of string.
Another straight pin was used to
secure the string to a branch. String
lengths and positions were adjusted
for balance and to make sure no bird
interfered with the movement of
another. (Birds could also perch on
top of the crosspiece.)
The bird mobile was lightweight
and moved gently, even without
a breeze. Its colorful display is a
relaxing addition to any front office,
classroom, or library.
• paper for bird patterns
• sheets of foam core board
• colored tissue paper
• watered-down glue, clear
papier-mâché art paste, or
• straight pins
• kite string or fishing line
• craft knife
Sheila Stubbs is an art teacher at Monterey
High School and Burks Middle School in
Cookeville, Tennessee. artnswim@hotmail.
Students apply media, techniques,
and processes with sufficient skill
confidence and sensitivity that their
intentions are carried out in their