Winging It: Fantastical Feathers

“Use the wings of the flying universe; dream with open eyes.”                          ~ Dejan Stojanovic

With birds as our late spring theme, feathers are the first thing we’ll focus on. Have fun designing an original feather from found materials. We’re featuring the barred owl here. Take a look at a barred owl’s feather.





Barred Owl Print by Thomaston Grammar School Second Grader / January 2020

Learn: Barred owls, although mostly active at night, are also visible in the daytime – mostly in woodland areas. They make their nests in a large natural hollow of a tree, or in an old nest that belonged to a hawk or crow. There are rarely more than 2-3 owlets waiting to hatch, and when they do they are covered with down. These young ones stick around for about 6 weeks before they take their first flight. Take a listen to a barred owl.

Winging it:  Day 1  Make your Fantastical Feather

Mindset: Think FLIGHT. Think LIGHT.

Materials: Anything natural or recycled, paper, brown paper bag, pencil or colored pencils, scissors, glue.

º Take a close look at the barred owl’s feathers up above. Check out the shape. The colors. The repeated pattern. The asymmetry.

[We’ve noticed, when we’ve collected natural objects, that nature creates other “feather-shaped” items. Look around for things that are feather-like shaped just for fun.]IMG_0953

IMG_0959º Now it’s time to create your feather! There are lots of ways to do it, You can use what you find outdoors or indoors (like bits of cloth, string, cardboard, or something furry.)  Start searching.

º Once you’ve scavenged around, choose parts of different objects to create your imaginary feather. Tear or cut bits and pieces of these found objects and build your fantastical feather. Move the pieces around until you get them where you want them. You can make your feather any size or shape!

How do you want your feather to feel?  How will you use color?  Will you make a repeating pattern? Give your feather its own special character.

º Glue your creation onto a piece of paper or part of a brown paper bag. Or leave it as is.

º You can draw an imaginary feather using pencil or colored pencil. Remember, it doesn’t have to look like any feather you’ve seen. Be inventive.

º We want to see what you’ve created. Take a photo and send it to us at or to your teacher.

More about feathers: Feathers help birds blend in, stay warm, keep dry, and fly! Here are some different kinds of feathers. Bird_Biology-feather_types_wing_down_tail_down_contour_semiplume_bristle_filoplume-1300x538

Wing feathers are asymmetrical. They have windproof surfaces on both sides of the feather’s shaft.  Notice the shape of a down feather. Contour feathers cover a bird’s body. They overlap in  patterns just like shingles on a rooftop. The fluffy parts of contour feathers tuck into the body. Contour feathers help streamline the bird’s shape.

You can learn more about feathers at Bird Academy: Everything you Need to Know about Feathers.

This is just the beginning of LEAPS’ Winging It.

We hope our ideas help your imagination take flight,

Nancy, for the LEAPS’ Team

© Nancy Harris Frohlich 2020


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