John James Audubon Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

John James Audubon was a famous artist who enjoyed creating images of wildlife. In this lesson, learn how Audubon developed a love for nature and how he was an early environmentalist.

Famous Painter

Are you someone who loves to be outdoors, watching wild animals in nature? Do you love to draw? If so, you have a lot in common with John James Audubon. John always liked art and wildlife and he would eventually become one of the most well-known wildlife artists in America. Let's find out more about this famous outdoorsman.

Early Life

John was not actually born in America, but in Haiti in 1785. He moved to France to be raised by his stepmother and as he grew up, he showed a fondness for music, drawing, and nature.

When he was 18 years old, John moved to America and lived on a vast estate owned by his family. Surrounded by forests and wildlife, he became even more fascinated with nature. Around this time he became the first known person to conduct successful bird banding. This is where a small identification band is placed on a bird's leg. In doing this, John learned that many birds would return every year to the same spot to breed.

Not So Successful

After he married and had children, John tried to earn a living as a traveling salesman. He eventually owned his own store, but it was not successful. In fact, he was put in jail for a short amount of time because he went bankrupt, meaning he lost all of his money. He knew he needed to do something different, and his desire to be in the wilderness was calling.

John James Audubon was always interested in drawing and wildlife.

Out In The Wilderness

With not much to lose, John headed out into the wild. He took with him some art materials, his gun, and an assistant that traveled with him. While heading up and down the Mississippi River, he drew many sketches and watercolors of the wildlife that he saw. Over time, these pieces began to grow in number and soon John had quite a collection of artwork.

This picture, created by Audubon, depicts bobwhites and red-tailed hawks.

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