Inspiring children one color at a time

Elephant Art Project

By on Apr 24, 2012 | 8 comments

Eric Carle’s latest book The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse is as delightful as the rest of his other titles. Journey through a young artist’s imagination as he paints a blue horse, a red crocodile, a yellow cow, an orange elephant and many others. My first graders loved this book and were excited to create their own orange elephant.

As with all of my Eric Carle inspired lessons, the children painted their own orange paper and used their observation skills to draw an elephant. We look at a few drawings of some elephants, including the majestic orange one in the book and together we drew elephant parts over the back of our dry painted paper. If a drawing didn’t turn out as planned, the children crossed through the lines and started again. This was truly a lesson in observational drawing as the year is coming to a close and my first graders have had plenty of tracing and cutting practice.

Once all the elephant parts were drawn, we switched gears and painted the background on a separate piece of white paper. I set out blue, green and some yellow tempera paints and the children painted a horizon line. Everything above the line was sky and below was the ground.

After the background dried, the children cut and pasted their adorable elephant parts onto the background. Long trunks fell off the page and for the quick few who had time to add details, a tray of oil pastels were set onto the tables so important things like pink toenails and eyelashes could be drawn.

Quite adorable don’t you think?


  1. I love these! So much personality!! You are a talented teacher and I so enjoy reading your blog!

    Amy Hartelust

    April 25, 2012

  2. These are so adorable!! I officially NEED to try an Eric Carle inspired project. Love how they all turned out, so cute =)

    Nicole Ioma

    April 25, 2012

  3. This is great. I just linked to this post from an animal crafts post I did the other day. It should really enhance it.


    April 30, 2012

  4. I just stumbled across your blog today and have enjoyed your ideas and creative/artistic tricks! When creating layered projects like this, do you ever use fixatives or any type of coating to preserve their artwork? To keep pastels from smearing, layers of papers from peeling up, etc.?


    May 15, 2012

    • Hi Sher,
      I rarely use fixatives simply because they take time to apply and there are just too many kids and art projects. School glue works well to keep things in place. Sometimes I use Mod-Podge to give a piece a “finished” look, but it’s rare. For chalk, I use newspapers to prevent smearing and then let the parents deal with fixative!


      May 15, 2012

  5. maybe you could have a differnet animal for each child so they could make a class book, the teacher may have to be artisticall inclined to draw a rough picture of every animal for the children though


    May 26, 2012

  6. I’d like to include this one too, with your permission and links back to your blog, of course. :)

    Ashley @ TheHillHangout

    June 18, 2012

  7. Dear Patty i thank you for your site is very usefull and for your effort to make children in the first grade to drawing this amazing pictures but let me ask you if you show them first a picture before you teach them how to draw an animal?

    Walla Ali

    December 30, 2012


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  2. Summer Art Projects - [...] Eric Carle is one of our best-loved children’s’ authors around here, I think this painted paper elephant in his …

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