Leopard Craft

I saw this awesome post using foam and a rolling pin on Dollar Store Crafts ages ago. I filed it away under things to do. When my son suggested we make a Leopard for “art project time”, it popped back into my head! We had so much fun , and found some great books at the library to go along with the theme!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a rolling pin, some sticky back foam, 2 pieces of construction paper, a marker, some brown paint, scissors, glue, black foam or paper, tape and some aluminum foil.
  2. Start by drawing an outline of a leopard. I drew a few before getting it right. Set aside.
  3. Cut spots out of your sticky back foam. Make them irregular.
  4. Next cover your rolling pin in aluminum foil. Tape the edge down.
  5. Peel off the backing and stick the foam onto your rolling pin.
  6. Brush your paint onto the foam pieces.
  7. Grab your leopard and roll!
  8. Add more paint and roll again.
  9. While your wee one is rolling, cut a nose out of black foam or paper.
  10. Cut the leopard out.
  11. Add glue to the leopard and add the eyes and nose.
  12. Glue onto the 2nd piece of paper and let dry.

“Lisa in the Jungle”by Anne Gutman made me giggle and my son really liked it to. It’s about Lisa who spent all summer at the pool instead of off on a wild vacation in the jungle. Lisa decides to ignore what she really did all summer and tell a tall tale to her classmates. It’s an endearing story because it’s told exactly the way a young child would tell such an outrageous story. My son loved the parts about stepping on sleeping crocodiles and feeding baby leopards.“Jungle Party” by Brian Wildsmith is a cautionary tale about a python and it’s tricky ways. In this book the jungle animals are tricked by a python into having a party with him, only to end up in his belly! Luckily a wise elephant is there to help and the animals get the last laugh. I liked this book although after about half way my wiggly 2 year old started loosing interest. I don’t think it’s the books fault, it’s just a little long for such a young audience. For slightly older kids this is a great book for making predictions about what will happen next.

“Deep In The Jungle” by Dan Yaccarino is a deceivingly deep book. While reading it to my son before nap today I was taken aback by how the Lion and the circus man in the book could be symbolic of so many historical and social things. However the surface story is about a Lion , the king of the jungle who is enticed out by a man who promises him a better life of fame in the big city. Soon the lion is in the circus, whipped, caged and with no power or fame. After eating the man and running back to the jungle he finds his subjects in cages as well. Although he was not a kind ruler before he saves his subjects from their captor. Seems all very heavy, but my son loved it. It is long and I was impressed he sat interested for the whole thing, he even said “Animals sad in cages!” proud moment for me!

Snake Craft

My son has been laying on his belly and slithering here and there for days so I figured we should channel that energy and throw in a lesson as well. So this activity makes something for my son to push along the floor as well as reinforcing shapes. He was also so excited to use our new paint roller, it’s amazing how something as small as a new paint brush can make art time new again.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a paper grocery bag or large piece of paper, paint, a brush or roller, 2 googly eyes, some different color foam , a plate for paint, scissors and glue.
  2. Cut open the bag so it’s a one long piece and draw a snake. I taped it right to the table.
  3. Start by choosing your paint colors, I was itching for my son to pick something bright but he chose brown and orange- and I am so happy he did I think it looks great. Pour both colors into a plate.
  4. Start painting.
  5. While your child is painting ( or before you start if that works better for you) ask your child what shapes they want to put on the snake, or decide yourself if they are too young. Cut large pieces for little guys that are still mouthing things. We don’t want anyone to choke!
  6. Time to glue the pieces on! I put the glue on in dots all along the snake.
  7. Cover each glue dot with a shape. Older children should be doing a pattern !
  8. While they are adding the shapes, cut out a tongue from red foam.
  9. Add the eyes and tongue.
  10. Let dry and cut out!

” Hide and Snake” by Keith Baker is a fantastic book for a wide range of ages. The story follows a snake that hides in multi colored places. It is not too easy to find the snake , but easy enough that this won’t frustrate your child. With older children this book can open a dialog about camouflage and how snakes use it for protection and hunting. Younger children love books likes these because they can stay “busy” while you read the fun rhyming text.

“A Snake Is Totally Tail”by Judi Barrett is a great book for teaching about animals. It doesn’t go into great depth for each animal instead if focuses on the one most obvious attribute of them all. What I love is that for toddlers they are able to see that easily in the pictures as you read the story. It seems simple and sorta average at first but sit down with a child, read it and it’s simple genius is blatantly apparent!
“The Sea Serpent and Me” by Dashka Slater is a sweet dreamy book. A little girl finds a sea serpent in her bath tub and they become friends all the while knowing he belongs in the sea. She promises to take him back but they keep finding reasons to wait. When they do finally go and he returns to the sea you can’t help but get a little lump in your throat remembering all those times you have had to say goodbye even though you didn’t really want to. The illustrations by Catia Chien make the whole book feel like a dream.


Animal Track Painting

I can’t even remember what inspired this, I know my son thought of it but I can’t remember now what preceded me saying ” How about making animal tracks?”. All I remember is that he bounded to the table, which is not always the case . This is a fast project, to stretch it out introduce new paint colors , new animals and more paper one at a time.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some fun toy animals, a plate, paper,markers and paint.
  2. If you want you or your child can draw some scenery.
  3. Spread some paint on your plate and dip your animal in.
  4. Start making some tracks.
  5. Add the next paint color and more paper if you want and keep going.
* After we painted we went for a walk outside and pretended to look for and follow animal tracks. We tippy toed for mouse tracks , hopped for bunny tracks and stomped around the patio when we “found” elephant ones. *Books !

Animaliaby Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love!

“Peek-a-Zoo!”by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a vibrant lift the flap book that goes through sounds different animals make while playing peek a boo with the reader. What I like about this book is that the flaps offer a chance for your baby or toddler to anticipate what animal it hiding as well as the sound , so it grows with them. Also the flaps are large enough that little hands can grab them and won’t get frustrated.
“Is Your Mama a Llama? “ by Deborah Guarino is a classroom favorite, I don’t know many preschool teachers who can’t recite most of this book . Readers follow Lloyd the llama as he riddles his way through a bunch of animals until he find the one he calls mom. I like the mix of animals in this book, a little different than your average zoo or farm collection.

Tiger Craft

tiger craft
My son has been talking a lot about tigers lately, so it was no shock to me when I asked him what he wanted to make for art and he replied “Tiger?”. He loved making this and even though we didn’t cut eyes out, he has been playing with it like a mask , pretending to be a ferocious tiger. If your child loves Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood ( which wasn’t on when this was first published) they will adore this paper plate tiger craft.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some orange and black paper, a paper plate, some orange paint ( or mix red and yellow like we did), scissors, googley eyes, and glue.
  2. Start by mixing your orange paint
  3. Paint your plate- we started out with the dainty brush,but finished with hands.
  4. While our child is painting, cut a nose and mouth.
  5. As well as some black stripes – we used 8
  6. And ears out of the orange paper.
  7. Add the stripes on either side by first adding glue
  8. Then the paper.
  9. Next add the mouth and nose.
  10. My son was begging to add the eyes before we finished the stripes, so we did it before we did the head stripes, it doesn’t really matter what order you do the gluing in.
  11. Add the stripes on the top of the head too.
  12. Next up, the ears, add two stripes on each ear.
  13. Glue the ears on and let everything dry.
Books !

“Tigress” by Helen Cowcher is a book that is definitely not for the sensitive child who is upset by animals killing other animals and talk of poisoning carcasses. I would have hated this book as a child, it would have put me in tears. However it is a realistic snippet of a tiger’s life, as well as the people who live nearby like herdsmen and game wardens. My son had no interest in this book , but an older child would appreciate it.

“If You See A Tiger” by Richard Powell is a cute book for babies and young toddlers. It’s a lift the flap book that encourages your child to do what the book suggests if you come across various animals. My son really liked this book when we read it a year ago when he was 18 months old.

“The Loudest Roar” by Thomas Taylor was given to me at my baby shower, recommended by a friend who’s son loved it. Sure enough my son does too, especially if I roar really really loudly along with Clovis the little tiger with the loudest roar of all. It’s a good book when toddlers are learning about when we can be loud and when we should be quiet.

Be Brave!

Moose Head !
Let me explain the title, over the weekend we went on a family road trip and went into a little small town diner for lunch. Immediately we were met with various stuffed animal heads mounted pretty low on the wall. It terrified my son who began screaming “No Animal head !” and grabbing at me to leave. We eventually found a restaurant sans elk but I suggested we make this moose head in part to get over the fear .Even if there was no trauma involving an elk or moose head at your house, this is a cute activity to do.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need 3 pieces of construction paper , some scrap black paper, 2 googley eyes, brown paint, a pencil, scissors, glue and some crayons.
  2. Have your child draw the background with crayons. My son drew clouds , the sun and “og” (fog).
  3. While they do that, draw antlers on the first piece of paper.
  4. Draw the outline of the moose head on the other piece of paper. I drew an uneven keyhole shape.
  5. Have your child paint the head with the brown paint. Using a big brush will help get all the head painted with little guys, our dauber didn’t do such a great job, so we took turns.
  6. Paint the antlers. Let dry.
  7. Cut out the antlers and head.
  8. Glue the antlers to the scenery.
  9. Glue the head on top of the antlers.
  10. While your child is gluing , cut out 2 ovals from the black paper for the moose’s nostrils.
  11. Glue the nostrils on.
  12. Add the glue for the eyes.
  13. Add the googly eyes. Let dry.

“If You Give A Moose A Muffin” by Laura Numeroff is a silly, engaging and darling story about demanding moose! If you are not familiar with the “If You Give A” series you are missing out. They are all great books that show cause and effect and are great when you are teaching about predicting, kids can make a prediction about what the moose will want next! My favorite part of this book is the puppet show!

“Moosetache” by Margie Palatini is a absurd book about a moose with an out of control mustache! Kids love this book, they laugh at the poor moose who is quite anxious about his unusual facial hair. The book has a valuable message about accepting yourself and the quirks that make you you.