Kids love to paint, and birds are fun to paint. Here’s a way to offer a portable art activity at your next Celebrate Urban Birds event.

Modeled after the Peace Tiles Project, this activity uses little pieces of wood, or tiles, that kids will paint on. The tiles can be displayed, exchanged with other groups, or taken home.

We prepared by having sheets of 1/4 inch thin plywood cut into 8 inch squares. The lumberyard agreed to do this for us. We also got lots of colors of acrylic craft paint, at least 2 paintbrushes per color, and plastic cups to pour small amounts of paint into (the clear plastic ones that angle wide at the top work well).

We used the silhouette poster that comes with the Celebrate Urban Birds kit as a tool for discussion. Holding the poster up we’d ask kids…are all these birds the same? And they would start to look carefully at the birds on the poster. ‘No’ was the right answer, and then we could ask, “What are the differences that help you tell these birds apart?” Well, they are different sizes, have different shaped beaks, and appear in different places…this leads into easy discussion about the fact that birds eat different things and live in different places. So if you see a brightly colored orange bird singing its heart out from the top of a tree, you can be pretty sure it’s a Baltimore Oriole. Or if you see a red and brown bird hopping along the grass, and it finds a worm and eats it, it’s an American Robin. Birds have different beaks because they eat different things..meat, fruit, seeds, insects, plants…

The next important question that can be used for discussion while the kids paint is, “Have you ever done anything to help birds?” The kids are painting, and thinking, and may say, “I feed the birds” and then you can return to the idea that different birds need different food and habitat…some birds eat seeds off the ground, but some need fruit and berries which grow on shrubs, so making sure that your yard has a variety of kinds of bushes, trees, and plants means you might see lots of different birds.