Level III-Art Lesson 6: The Eastern European Firebird
Learn to draw the mythical firebird and learn stories about firebirds
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 5 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
The firebird is a common feature in Russian and Ukrainian culture. “The Little Hunchbacked Horse,” a popular folktale, and the Firebird ballet both tell tales of this magical bird whose feathers glow and light the way through the darkness to success.
Since glowing feathers are the most important feature of a firebird, the artist drawing a firebird must find a way to depict this glow, and finding a solution to this problem is an interesting part of this lesson. The lesson is also an introduction to mixed media—combining chalk pastels, colored pencils, and washable markers.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the firebird.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 firebird warm-up (this is included with the lesson)
- 1 sheet of 11" x 14" drawing paper (#ad)
- Colored pencils (#ad)
- 1 set of washable colored markers (#ad)
- Chalk pastels (#ad)
- 1 fine tipped permanent black marker (#ad)
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Read The Firebird — a Ukrainian fairy tale. The story is about a boy who chooses a horse, even though everyone else thinks the horse is the worst choice possible. With the help of the horse and a firebird, he goes on many adventures and becomes a hero.
- Read the story of “The Little Humpbacked Horse” (#ad) Ivan, the youngest of three sons, discovers a magnificent mare stealing hay from the family fields. When he helps the mare, he's rewarded with three colts. He keeps the one that is humpbacked, and the colt guides him on a series of adventures, until he eventually becomes Tsar.
- Watch a video of The Little Humpbacked Horse. Make sure to go to settings for subtitles!
- Learn more about the firebird and about Russian folk arts.
Music and Dance:
- Listen to the music or watch excerpts of a performance of Stravinski’s Firebird Suite.
- Learn the history of the ballet.
- Click here for the story of the ballet.
- Read the story of Igor Stravinsky.
- Learn the chemistry of glow sticks.
- Learn why some things glow in the dark.
- Learn about what makes some fish, some things in the ocean, and some animals glow.
- Learn about glow worms and fireflies.
Art: Compare how you have depicted lights glowing in the darkness with Rembrandt’s techniques in his famous painting, The Night Watch. Learn the story of Rembrandt's life and work. Enjoy an interactive look at his painting.
- Social Studies: Learn about the geography of Russia and Ukraine.
- Enjoy other lessons that feature Ukraine: The Ukrainian Rooster, the Face With Hidden Surprises, The Convent in L'viv, The Carpathian Church, and the The Ukrainian Cat.
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Introduction through guided drawing: 30 minutes
- Finishing the drawing: 50 minutes
- Total time: 80 minutes