In the Wings Art Lesson

Description: Learning the structures of wings and applying life lessons. A great project for responsibility and dependability, teaching students to complete a big task. Geese flying south for the winter depend on each other. They need each other in order to complete their goal.


1. Appreciating birds in their own right by understanding basic analogous and distinctive structures and features, and familiarizing students with the essential organization of plumage.

2. Creative fulfillment and empowerment. Kids will see they can create something meaningful like a wing that they can share with others

3. Understanding and having fun with color and designing own personal feathers.

4. Acting out in a group (or groups) as flocks of geese.

Author: Blair
Grade level or Target Age Range: Elementary to middle school (can be adapted to younger ages)

Sample, Historical Art Examples, and References:
National Audubon Society – education for kids and families on birds
ebird – National Museum of Wildlife Art

project sample:
in the wingsWing_Diagram_by_box_jellyfishjackman blue heron
swainson hawk wing feathers



Vocabulary: Primaries, secondaries, coverts, alula, contour feathers, down feathers, analogous, hue, responsibility, dependability, flock,

Materials: String or yarn, construction paper, tape, markers (optional), hole-punch (optional)

Anticipatory Set: What do we notice when we see birds flying? Wings move fast, look big or small, sometimes they make sounds, etc. Could birds ever move like humans do? How about humans moving like birds? Review basic bone structure, etc. Reveal finished sample wing.


1. Show finished wing. Show diagram of primary, secondary, and covert feathers, and describe the difference. Demonstrate how to use a tracing template for the feathers in order to draw their distinct shapes onto construction paper.
(5-10 minutes)

2. Hand out pre-cut basic wing shapes and show boxes of feather templates to share. Remind students that sharing is caring.
(5 minutes)

3. Have students trace feather shapes onto construction paper. Meanwhile, demonstrate how students can draw markings of their choice on the feathers.
(15 minutes)

4. Hand out scissors to cut out feathers (this may be skipped if using pre-cut feathers). Then allow students to tape feathers onto basic paper wing shapes in the general areas of primary, secondary, and covert feathers.

(15 minutes)

5. Students who have finished may bring their feathered wing shapes to teacher to hole-punch. Then demonstrate how to thread strings through the holes to create loops to fit over the student’s arm.  Alternatively, students may simply tape paper loops to the wing, though this may make the wing stiffer.

(10 minutes)

6. Review the feather types and show diagram of arm alongside wing, illustrating analogous structures.
(5 minutes)

7.  If you have time left, arrange students in V shapes to replicate a flock of geese. Have them “fly south for the winter”. Make students aware of their V formation and how they operate together.

Minnow Program 2014- 1Tzu Chi Program Spring 2014 1



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *