Pathway: Making Birds

Pathway for Years 1 & 2

Sculpture, Drawing, Collage

Key Concepts:

  • That there is a relationship between drawing & making – we can transform 2d to 3d.

  • That we can use observational drawing and experimental mark-making together to make art.

  • That we can work from similar stimulus or starting point but end up with very different individual results.

  • That the individual results can then be brought together to make a whole artwork. 

In this pathway children continue to develop their understanding of sculpture and build their making skills.

The exploration starts with careful looking and drawing, and from this “grounded” basis children are encouraged to take creative risks by using experimental mark-making with a variety of media.

Children are then invited to explore how they can manipulate their drawings in an intuitive way to make 3d forms. Paper is twisted, folded, crumpled to become 3d and added to a simple structure. Children explore balance to finally created an individual bird.

The class birds can then be brought together to make a “flock” – with each child’s artwork valued as part of the whole.

Birds, Wildlife, Local habitat

Paper (sugar and cartridge), Soft pencils, wax crayons, watercolours, pastels, graphite, scissors, glue sticks, cardboard or foamboard, paper clips or wire.

A variety (see resource)

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Making Birds
Making birds from card, paper and wire
Love birds
ages 5-8

Teaching Notes

Please find the CPD session recording of the Making Birds pathway here.

Curriculum Links

Geography: Use language which supports understanding about continents (migration), maps, habitats.  

Maths: Explore the relationship between 2D/3D shapes, weight, measuring. 

Science: Explore birds, habitats, seasons, food chain 

PSHE: Supports Peer Discussion, Collaboration, Responsibility to the planet. 

I Can…

  • I can look carefully at photos and films of birds, take in the details and overall shapes, and then made drawings of what I have noticed.

  • I can drawn from life looking closely.

  • I can experiment with a variety of drawing materials and test ways to make marks that describe what I see.  

  • I can use colour in my drawings and mix two or more different media together.

  • I have looked at the work of other artists who have been inspired by birds and I can share my response to their work.

  • I can fold, tear, crumple and collage paper to transform it from 2d to 3d.

  • I can use a variety of materials to make my own sculpture, and I have taken on the challenge of making my sculpture balance and stand.

  • I have seen how my sculpture can be part of a class artwork. I can see how all our sculptures are individual.

  • I can share my work with my classmates and teachers, and consider what was successful for me.


This pathway takes 6 weeks, with an hour per week. Shorten or lengthen the suggested pathway according to time and experience. Follow the stages in green for a shorter pathway or less complex journey.


Sketchbooks, soft pencils, coloured pencils, handwriting pens, oil/chalk pastels, feathers, A2 cartridge, sugar paper, newsprint. 

Project 1: Rubbings- Small objects, wax crayons. 

Project 2: Drawing Fur (adapt to feathers) – Feathers, pastels, soft pencils.  

Corrugated card or foamboard, wire or paper clips, glue sticks.

Pathway: Making Birds

A PDF of this pathway can be found here.

  • Aims of the Pathway

    This pathway aims to help children begin to understand the relationship between drawing and making, 2d and 3d. Pupils explore how to transform materials into sculpture, moving from mark making to balance and structure. 

  • Week 1: Drawing as Research

    Drawing from Photographic Sources

    Drawing Birds

    Visit the free to accessDrawing Source Material: Birdsresource to find films of birds shown in close-up.

    Pause the films at various points so that children can work in their sketchbooks to make drawings of birds.

    Encourage close and slow looking by talking as they draw – use your voice to attract their attention to features of the bird.

    Create momentum with the drawing by inviting pupils to make drawings of various timed lengths, before moving on to the next paused image/drawing.

    Experiment with a variety of media: soft B pencils, handwriting pens, pastels.

  • Week 2: Developing Skills

    Drawing from Observation & Experimental Mark-Making

    Pastel, Chalk, Graphite

    Explore theFeathers: Perfect for Mark-Makingresource.

    This time working from real feathers rather than photographic imagery, encourage the children to take creative risks and explore how they can draw feathers using a variety of mediums.

    Work in sketchbooks or on larger pieces of paper (A3) and experiment with how the paper size changes the nature of the mark-making (for example use sugar paper and cartridge paper).

    You might like to show pupils this work by artist Andrea Butler, in which Andrea shares how she uses the textures and colours within birds to inspire her artwork. 

  • Week 3: Working Slowly Towards 3d

    Manipulating Paper from 2D to 3D

    Still working on paper, but this time on sheets of newsprint, sugar and cartridge paper, pupils will explore what happens when you fold, tear, crumple paper and start to manipulate it towards 3d forms. 

    Explore these three resources and decide which elements you would like to explore with your children:

    Make sure you encourage playful exploration and celebrate invention. Pupils are not working towards a fixed outcome, instead they are developing making and creativity skills. 

  • Week 4, 5: Watch & Make

    Explore Sculpture

    Pupils are now going to start making their sculptures.

    What is Sculpture

    Watch theWhat Is Sculptureanimation if you didn’t watch it with the class earlier in the year.

    Fulmar Petrel from Birds of America (1827) by John James Audubon

    Take a look at the free to access Talking Points: Inspired by Birdsresource if you’d like to talk about how other artists have been inspired by birds. Work in sketchbooks guided by the “Show Me What You See” resource.


    Making Birds

    Use theMaking Birdsresource to enable children to pull all their learning together and make small sculptures. 

  • Week 6: Celebrate

    Reflect & Share

    Finally make time to display the birds as a “flock”. Here is an opportunity to talk about many pieces made by separate people can be exhibited as a single artwork.

    Use theCritresource to help you explore how to talk about the work.

    Perching birds

See the Pathway Used in Schools...

Birds made by Year 3 Selbourne Primary School
Year 1
Year 4
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 1, Histon and Impington Brook Primary School
Year 5, Littletown School
Year 5, Littletown School
Year 5, Littletown School
Year 2 Trumpington Park Primary School
Year 1, Penny Kemp
Year 1, Penny Kemp
Year 1, Penny Kemp
Year 2, Aboyne Lodge Primary School
Year 2, Aboyne Lodge Primary School
Year 2, Aboyne Lodge Primary School
Year 2, Aboyne Lodge Primary School

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