Have you spotted any cardinals yet this winter? This cardinal handprint craft is an adorable keepsake to make for someone special this winter. And it’s easy to make with real branches if you are not great at painting.
RELATED: Paper and Felt Handprint Cardinal
Cardinal Handprint Craft
This project works well for kids of all ages – you can even make a family of birds on a canvas!
And you can always use a brush to make any touch-ups afterward if you find with toddlers or babies you can’t get a full print.
If you’d rather use paper or felt, see our paper and felt handprint cardinal tutorial.
For this project, we used real branches for the handprint cardinals to perch on. Collect a few on your next nature walk or walk around the neighborhood, looking for sticks that are somewhat flat so that you’ll be able to glue them to your canvas later.
You can also paint the branches on yourself or use construction paper and glue them on.
We used thin board-style canvases from the dollar store for these, but you could also use thick cardstock or cardboard.
- Canvas boards – or cardboard or cardstock
- Paint – red, orange, black, and blue. Non-toxic acrylic or tempera paint works well.
- Paintbrushes – medium and small
- Sticks – find some sticks or branches outside!
- Cotton balls – to be the snow
- White glue – to attach the snow onto the branches
- Hot glue gun – used with adult assistance
- Snowflake stickers – to decorate the blue sky
- Scissors – for trimming the sticks
How to Make Handprint Cardinals
1. Prepare the branches and background.
If using canvas or cardboard, paint it a shade of light to medium blue. Let dry completely.
Look through the sticks you gathered and try arranging them on your canvas. Look at the size of your canvas and your child’s hands to determine how much space you have and how many branches and birds will fit.
If you do not have sticks, you can also paint them on or use construction paper and glue branches down from brown paper.
When you’re happy with the branch placement, hot glue the branches in place (with adult assistance) and use scissors to trim off anything hanging over the edge of the canvas.
2. Make the handprints.
Apply a coat of red paint (we used non-toxic washable tempera) onto your child’s hand. To make the little feather plume on the cardinal’s head, we left a small gap unpainted on the thumb.
Guide your child’s hand to make the print right on top of a branch.
Remove your child’s hand and you’re left with a handprint! Use a brush to fill in any missing spots or smooth any edges, if desired.
Repeat as many times as you like, keeping in mind the direction you’d like the birds to face.
For this print pictured below, the two handprints are from both hands.
3. Add the painted details.
Use a fine-tipped paintbrush to paint on an orange, triangular beak.
You can also glue on a beak from orange cardstock or felt.
Use another small brush to paint a small black dot for the eye.
4. Add the snow to the branches.
Take a cotton ball and gently unroll it so that it forms long, loose whisps of cotton.
Apply a thin line of white glue to the top of each branch.
Gently place a thin long piece of cotton onto the glue and press it to adhere. Let dry.
If you do not have cotton balls, you can also paint the snow above the branches and on the branches also.
5. Add the snowflakes.
Decorate the blue background with foam snowflake stickers.
Don’t forget to write your child’s name and the date on the back!
These cardinal handprints are so nice to have around the house over the winter season!
These canvases would also make great gifts and you can frame them.