My sixth graders have been learning how to draw animals by using basic shapes as building blocks. When I was their age, I loved to check out step-by-step drawing books from the library, and those books helped me become a better artist. Breaking down complex subjects into simple components that anyone can draw is my favorite way to teach drawing. Birds are easy to reduce to shapes like ovals, triangles, and circles, so we drew Illinois birds, many of whom we miss during the winter. Then we used watercolor pencils and Sharpie markers to add colors and details. Most of the kids are not finished with this project, but I couldn’t resist photographing a few of the early ones. I am particularly enchanted with the (nearly finished) pheasant, but then again I am enchanted with all pheasants.