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paint brushes and paint on a piece of cardboard next to a painted clay bird

Clay bird

Learn how to make a bird out of clay that you can paint and decorate with natural materials

Making a clay bird is a wonderful, tactile activity that produces some beautiful results. The act of feeling and rolling the clay and using natural materials can be very calming and grounding.

You will need

  • 1 block of airdry clay
  • 2 feathers
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • A jar of water to dampen the clay and wash your brush
  • Objects to press into the clay. For example - a pencil or pen, teaspoon, pebbles, leaves, feathers

If you can, collect natural materials from your own garden, or when outside on a walk. If you can’t do this, use indoor objects that create interesting patterns.

Making your clay bird

  1. Think of a bird you know, look through a book for inspiration or make up an imaginary bird.
  2. Soften the clay by rolling it into a fat cigar shape.
  3. Pull one end of the clay into the shape of a bird tail.
  4. Shape the other end into the head and beak. The head and tail can be any shape you want them to be, but looking at pictures of birds will help with inspiration.

Decorating your bird

There are many ways that you can decorate your bird to bring it to life.

Plumage try sticking feathers on to represent wings, a tail, or a plume, alternatively, mark an outline of wings and score into the clay to give the impression of

Eyes you can add eyes by pressing in the end of a stick, a paintbrush or pencil.

Adding colour Leave the bird to dry and after a week it will be ready to paint. You can use colours to represent a bird you know or add a range of colours for an imaginary bird.

Follow on activities

Give your bird a name and bird call.

You might like to make a home for your bird. If so, take a look at our birds nest-making activity sheet

Helpful tips

You can use ordinary objects like scissors or a food fork to add interesting textures.

If you want to extend the activity over a longer period of time just wrap the clay in a plastic bag to keep it from drying out.