Mad Scientist Animal Lab
(All Ages)
Tell kids to imagine they possessed some crazy science lab where it was possible to mix and match different parts of different animals together. What would you create? Pose this question to your class and then put them to work creating artistic renditions of what they imagine. There are several possible variations:

  • Provide a blank piece of paper and crayons or markers and have them start from scratch creating an animal entirely from their own imagination.

  • Gather old magazines such as National Geographic that feature animals. Have kids cut out an animal, chop it in half, glue it on their paper, and then re-imagine the other half, using markers, crayons or paint to complete the picture.

  • Dissect pictures of animals from magazines and mix and match them together to create unique animal creations, with kids adding in a background or their own artistic touches to blend it all together.

Once they are done, have kids write/dictate a story describing each of their animal hybrids.

Beastly Me
(All Ages)
Ask kids to bring in one or two small wallet-size facial portraits to use for this art project. Better yet, take them yourself using a digital camera, and then print them out 12 or 16 to a page, which should give you pictures the right size, and is easier and quicker than relying on parents. Provide kids with paper and some sort of art utensil (paint, crayons, markers, etc.), and have them draw an animal body-either a real animal or a hybrid of their own creation. Once they are done, cut and paste their head shot onto the animal’s neck. It makes for a fun and fascinating artistic creation!

Animal Patterns
(All Ages)
Many animals have patterned fur or skin to help them blend in with their environment. Leopards have their spots, rattlesnakes have colors and patterns that blend into the ground they slither on, and penguins have white bellies that disguise them from below and dark backs that disguise them from above. Zebras … well, I’m not sure what zebras are trying to blend into. A prison camp, maybe? But they look pretty stylish doing it.

Some mammals, like birds, have colorful patterns to attract a partner. Other creatures (butterflies, frogs or insects) might have bright and colorful patterns to scare predators away, essentially sending the message: Don’t eat me or I’ll give you a gigantic tummy-ache.

Talk about these various adornments, and tell kids to imagine their own unique animal pattern, drawing it on paper with crayons or markers. When they’re through, have them tell you how they came up with that pattern, what type of creature they envision it on, and what significance it would have for that animal.

Animal Masks
(Preschool-Grade 3)
For this activity each child will need a disposable paper plate. Place the bowl-side over their face so that the bottom of the plate is facing outward, and pencil in where their eyes and mouth would be. Then have an adult cut small eye and mouth openings with an exacto knife (not while holding the plate over the child’s face, of course, but if you need to be told that, you shouldn’t be anywhere around children). Have kids paint what would be the underside of the plate, and then complete their animal mask by adding the following:

  • Print the nose and ear pattern template onto card stock (or trace the patterns onto construction paper) and glue these onto their mask
  • Use yarn or pipe cleaners for whiskers Add cotton balls or yarn pieces for fur.
  • Once a child’s mask is completed, use a nail to carefully poke a hole on each side of the mask, and tie elastic string between it to make a mask kids can wear.

Animal Tails
(All Ages)
Purchase some cheap, long white adult tube socks, one sock for each child in your class. Stuff the inside with packing peanuts or crumpled up newspaper. Provide your kids with either fabric paints or fabric dye and brushes. (Warning: These items will stain clothes, so make sure smocks are worn and you take all proper precautions!) Have kids point and decorate all sides of the tube sock like an animal tail. Once they have it properly painted, provide yarn, scissors, and craft glue and have them glue on pieces of yarn for fur or hair. Or, if they’d prefer a fluffy tail, glue on cotton balls instead.

Once dry, pin their tail on their backside with a safety pin and let them play!

Animal Prints
(Preschool to Grade 2)
Print some of the larger, cookie-cutter style animal stencils contained on the worksheets and printables page for this theme. Cut and trace them onto cardboard, then use an exacto knife to cut them out. Finally, coat both sides of your cardboard cutout in either clear nail polish, glossy latex paint, or a spray sealant to give it a glossy coated finish. Allow them to dry.

Set the finished cutouts at your art table along with paper, paint and brushes. Have kids paint one side of the animal cutout in assorted colors, and then press the painted side against the paper to leave its impression. They can then paint a background or add to their creation with another animal print.

Wildlife Scenes
(All Ages)
Print some of the smaller animal stencils contained on the worksheet and printables page with this theme. Have kids color animals of their choosing and cut them out. Next have them create a background scene on a separate piece of paper. Arrange and paste the animals onto this paper to complete their wildlife scene.

Hidden Animals
(All Ages)
For a fun alteration of the art project described above, have kids color, cut and paste some animal cutouts onto their paper. Only this time, go outside and collect pebbles, dirt, grass, twigs, leaves, and weeds. Use the natural materials to ‘hide’ the animals within the nature scene so that they are somewhat concealed.