Cardinals in Winter Trees

  • Things you may have already:
    • Crayons – black + red
    • Small paint brush
    • Cotton swab (this works instead of a brush)
    • Scissors
    • Glue stick

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Ideal Age Range:


Mess Factor:

Low – Medium

Prep Time:

5 min – gather materials to get ready. You may want to find a book or picture of winter birch trees to show your child before you begin if you don’t have any in your yard.

HELPFUL TIP – Show your child a photo of birch trees (or perhaps you are fortunate enough to have some growing in your area). Part of this project includes drawing in the unusual texture of the birch trees. If you don’t have these growing in your area, your child may need a visual to help them replicate the tree bark in their artwork.

This story book is also a great enhancement for this project:

Active Instructions:

  1. Using the black crayon, draw 3 or 4 skinny strips on the white paper.
    • If your child is younger, you can draw the tree shapes first and/or go hand over hand together.
  2. Show your child that the birch tree has uneven black markings on the bark. Encourage your child to use the black crayon to make various marks and dashes on the tree. Some children will draw stripes. It may be helpful to show them a photo of a birch tree and/or the sample picture shown in this project. Whatever markings they put on the trees will be fine, as long as it is not a plain white tree.
  3. Cut out the tree strips. Remember that trees are not perfectly straight in nature, so this will be good cutting practice.
Draw lines for birch trees on white paper

Add birch markings and cut out.

  1. Arrange the trees on the blue paper and glue. They do not have to be evenly spaced or standing perfectly straight.
  2. Cut a few smaller white pieces to make some branches and glue them on the trees.
Glue the tree trunks onto blue paper

Add smaller white branches

  1. Refer to the Cardinal Body template below to help draw the 2 or 3 birds onto the branches. Using the red crayon, draw an oval shape on top of the branch, making a small point at the top for the “crown” of the cardinal. If your child needs assistance, you can draw the shape with a pencil and have them color it in with the red crayon. It may be difficult for some children to get the point at the top; if it looks like a red blob, that’s ok; it is their drawing. Try not to feel that you have to fix it. Also note, the cardinal tail that hangs below the branch. A dash of red under the branch will suffice to represent the tail.
    • You can print the cardinal body directions from the template below.
You can find a downloadable version of these directions below.
  1. Using the black fine point marker, add the eyes and the beak.
    • The beak can be optional if it is difficult for your child to draw the small triangle.
  2. Add the snowflakes using the cotton swab (or brush) to dab white paint all over the blue paper.
Draw cardinals with red crayon
Use black marker to add cardinal features
Use white paint to make snow

If you would like to frame the final art project, trim about ¼ inch off each side of the picture and glue it onto a red piece of paper.

Framed on red paper


You can download the cardinal body directions to have on hand for a closer look while you are making this project.

If you want to pin this project, please use the image below.

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