Giraffe's Can't Dance Art project for Kids

Giraffes Can’t Dance Art Lesson




Who says giraffes can’t dance? According to my first grade students, they not only dance, but sway, gyrate and hip-hop. Based on the book of the same name, the lesson was done in two, 40-minute sessions.

Giraffes Can't Dance Art Project for Kids

Supplies for Giraffe
– 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper
– Pencil/eraser
– Brown, orange, yellow and black broad-tip Crayola markers
– Scissors

Supplies for Background
– Plastic cup and pencil
– Palette of green, yellow,white, purple and blue tempera paint
– 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper

Drawing the Giraffe
I used a directed line instruction for the giraffe drawing and gave the children options for creating their own unique movements. Use pencils. It’s a hard drawing and the kids will get frustrated if they can’t erase. Keep the lesson simple. Concentrate on the big shapes (big circle for the belly, skinny rectangles for legs, etc.) Color the giraffes using yellow or orange broad-tip markers (I like Crayola Washable) then add spots and marks using a brown or black marker. Finally, cut the giraffe drawing out. This takes a bit of time but let the children at least start so they can practice this skill. If they don’t finish in a reasonable amount of time, cut the rest out for them. This way, all the children will be at the same place for the next class.

Tip: Make sure to put the student’s name on the back of the cut-out giraffe!

Painting the moonlit sky
Using a plastic cup, the kids traced a big circle for the moon. Mixing the blue and purple paint directly onto the paper, the kids used big sweeping brush strokes to paint the sky. Start from the bottom (about a third of the way up) and paint towards the moon, being careful not to paint inside the circle shape.

Next, the kids painted the moon using white paint. They painted in a circular motion, starting in the center and moving outwards until they touched the blue paint. I encouraged the kids to paint over the blue, so the white and blue sky would mix.

Finally, the kids painted the grass yellow, waited 30 seconds, then painted over the yellow with green paint. Using the ends of their brushes, the kids etched grass into the paint. Paste the giraffes onto background and enjoy the lovely art!

Giraffe's Can't Dance Art project for Kids


What do you think?

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  • Julie Durocher

    I LOVE this lesson. How fun. Those Giraffes are so cute! I might have to borrow your idea!

  • Patty P

    Thanks Julie.
    They are adorable. The hardest part of this lesson was trying to come up with instructions on how to draw the giraffe. Ultimately, we did the giraffe together as a class. I gave options for leg and arm placements.
    I love how they came out and I think the kids were really proud.
    Love your blog, by the way. Yeah for you!

  • Anonymous

    A great idea! Thank you so much for posting it!

  • Lucy Ames

    This looks like so much fun! I am just amazed that you got all of that done in 2 40 minute periods. Did you have any adults helping the kids cut out the giraffes? How about the gluing part? I, too, teach art at two elementary schools, and even after 12 years still feel so lucky. My biggest challenge is those short art periods, so that’s why I ask about how in the world you got that all done so fast! I am looking forward to perusing your site some more. Thanks for sharing so many great ideas.

  • Patty P

    Hi Lucy!
    Thanks for visiting. You’re instincts are absolutely right. The cutting stage of the lesson is the most challenging for this age group. Usually about half the class finishes the entire first step and the other half barely finishes the coloring. For the kids who can stay on track, great. But for the others, I tell them to focus on the coloring and they can cut out their giraffe anytime.
    Then, it’s important to move on to the next step.
    When the next class arrives, it’s a clean slate for everyone. The second half of this project is fast but to make it faster, cut down the size of your paper. It’s a good trick for any project.
    Place the cut out giraffes directly onto the wet paint. Extra glue can be added later (another time saver!)
    For the kids who didn’t have time to cut out their giraffes, it’s unlikely that they’ll have time during this step, but keep the giraffe in their folder, so when they have extra time in art class, they can pull it out and work on it. (This is what I do).
    OR, the teacher can cut it out!
    Hope this helps!

  • Jennifer

    I love this lesson. I am going to try it this week. THanks for this blog- it is GREAT!!!!!

  • Sixth Grade Teacher

    This is adorable! I have 6th graders, but we don't have an art program at our school. So some of the older projects are a little beyond their skill right now.

    This one was perfect as a project for them. They had fun drawing their giraffes, and the painting was a great skill builder for using paintbrushes and mixing paint.

    I only have primary colors and black and white paint, so we make all our own colors on the paper. This was a perfect lesson for mixing paint on the paper!

    I was able to get most of the class to finish in one 70 minute period. Some are taking their giraffes home to finish cutting out tonight.

  • Patty P

    So glad this was a fun project for your sixth graders. And you're right, it's perfect for any age. Don't the giraffes just make you laugh?

  • Charline

    I love your blog. So many great ideas. Thought I would share the link to my art room with you and your readers. 🙂


  • sandra.ott

    I have done a few of your lesons, but this is my absolute favorite. These were on a bulletin board in our hallway and I have never received so many complements and the children were delighted with their finished projects. Thanks for your great ideas!

  • Teacher Kristy

    I teach kindergarten in VA and we were studying Kenya. Stumbled upon this giraffe lesson and it has been adorable! Thank you. I was lame and cut out the giraffes myself to save time. We only have 2 more weeks of school. I posted you on my blog list and I will be checking it out often! Thanks again.

  • Our Family

    We did this for our homeschool art project with my first grader today – Perfect, thanks!

  • Cara

    do you think you would be able to share what words you would use to teach drawing the giraffe to 1st graders? thanks so much!

  • Patty Palmer

    Hi Cara,
    If you can, borrow this book from your local library and then try drawing the giraffe yourself. You'll find it much easier relaying the instructions after you've attempted it yourself. It's what I do.
    To make the giraffe with really little kids, keep the shapes simple oval for the head, two lines for the neck, circle for the belly and rectangles for legs.
    Good luck!

  • Vanessa Latour

    My students Love this lesson! I’ve taught it to students as young as 4 and even in classes with students as old as 12 and it’s love by all. At first students are always intimidated to draw a dancing giraffe–mostly the older ones–but once they break it down into simple shapes it’s a blast. The hardest part is cutting the giraffe out for the youngsters! There’s always a need to ensure that legs and horns can always to reattached before students start cutting.

    Check out the blog- artreachcreates.blogspot.com

  • Andrea

    Thank you so much for such awesome ideas! I come to your site frequently for cute ideas. I am a first grade teacher and we do not have an art teacher in our school, so I am left to that task. It is difficult coming up with good activities, and your site serves an an inspiration and resource for me. Thank you! My students made your fabulous snowmen in January, and we are going to attempt the giraffes this week. Thanks again!

  • Charlene

    I’m working on this project with my first graders right now. They are loving it! It will take us 3 – 45 minute class periods to complete. On day one, we read the book and drew the giraffe. Day 2 we traced, colored, and cut the giraffe. I agree with everyone that cutting is the hardest part, but a valuable skill. Any body parts that were cut off can just be glued back on. Third day is painting!

    • Amy Hawkins

      Thank you so much for sharing how you taught the draw. Those sound like the perfect directions for this!!

  • Jessica

    I just finished this project with my 2nd graders. They turned out GREAT! Cutting was the hardest part for my kiddos. I tried to remind them to cut very slow. We only had a few taped limbs! 🙂

  • Suzi MacDaniels

    I am not familiar with the sulphite paper. Is it that different from construction paper? It almost looks like it has a slick finish on it, that allows the paint to stay on the surface longer? Where do you recommend buying this paper? thanks so much. Your ideas are wonderful. Suzi

    • Patty Palmer

      Hi Suzi,
      Great question. Sulphite paper is like construction paper with the lignin extracted. It’s a far better quality than kid’s craft construction paper. You can download my free art supply resource list to let you know where I buy everything from. Here’s the link: https://www.deepspacesparkle.com/shop/art-supplies-for-the-art-room/

  • Mandi Ilene

    It would be awesome if the page linked to the book so when I bought it you got a commission from amazon.

  • Barbara

    I love this idea! I am using youtube’s video of a guy singing the song! I feel it is awesomely done! (It is actually viewpure so there are no ads to worry about.) http://viewpure.com/Zzb5Acl-n70?ref=search

  • potsy

    What a great lesson! Amazing was to get kids to feel and think creatively.

  • Catherine Davison

    I love this giraffe idea-it’s so good to give the children ways to opt out of expected norms and make it fun. I’m gleaning so much from this website for my afterschool classes, I ordered the Starry Night PDF a while back and it was a favourite with the kids and parents. Looking forwards to more

    • Patty Palmer

      Yay! So glad to hear that!

  • Irene

    Lovely idea. This book is a favourite with every young class I teach. The art lesson is doable for the kids and it brightens up the classroom.

  • Desiree Ward

    Loved this unit. Thank you

  • Julie

    Hi, I loved doing this lesson last year but I thought I showed a video. Now I can’t find the link to the video. I don’t know if I will get enrolled as a member before I teach this lesson because I start my year off with growth mindset.

    • Patty

      Hi Julie! Yes there is a video. You probably saw it inside The Sparklers Club or perhaps you purchased the PDF lesson plan? If you think you purchased the lesson plan but cant find it, just let support@deepspacesparkle.com know. They’ll try to find your purchase 🙂

  • Carla Cammarosano

    It’s such an interesting approach to the story in this book. Congrats!

  • Ann Litney

    I have used this lesson for years and I have lost it, I can not find the link on this page Please help I want to do this lesson this afternoon

    • Patty

      Hi Ann,
      Can you send an email to support@deepspacesparkle.com? They’ll retrieve your purchase for you and help you get started.

  • elizabethh@spokaneschools.org

    I thought I bought this but can’t find this in my account.
    Thank you

    • Patty

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Can you contact support@deepspacesparkle.com? They’ll look at your account and can help you out 🙂

  • Sandra shetka

    Love this and plan to do it asap

  • Miriam Cowles

    I have this book and can’t wait to try this!

  • Jess

    This looks amazing! Can you please send me the link to full lesson please? Cheers Jess xx

  • Lora Phillips

    I love this story and have shared it with my kindergarten classes in the past. This year will be the first year sharing with a new grade,First Grade and the power of YET!!



  • Kathy

    I wasn’t sure my students would be able to do this because they are young in a K/1 class. But I was able to do the directed drawing in small groups of 10 and we did the painting portion at a Centre during their playtime. They turned out so cute! We discussed as a class if they wanted to add glitter for stars and of course they did because what 5-7 year old doesn’t like glitter. I would love to sent you some photos of them but am not sure how to do that on here.

  • Wendy

    Going to try this tomorrow. If they turn out this good I will be very happy.

  • Lynne

    I am making my first distance learning assignment – creating my google classroom for Monday. I have a a youtube reading for this. I have made a google doc. writing exercise and then hope to have THIS beautiful DSS Giraffe’s Can Dance lesson for my 28 first graders to finally create from their hearts. I love that crayons are used for this. I hope to spread Joy with this lesson.

  • Amy Hawkins

    This is the cutest! I wish there was a video for it!

  • Barbara

    Thank you for such thorough directions. I will be Teacher/Grandma to my kindergarten ready grandchild this school year. Your ideas are engaging, fun and easily connected to the curriculum ❤️🥰

  • Renee

    Has anyone connected this lesson to a particular element of art?

    • Patty

      Yes. This lesson is in our membership with standards. I would use: Value, Shape, Rhythm and Movement as the main E of A and P of D.

  • Denise Saunderson

    How do you buy the directed draw?

    • Bethany

      Hi Denise! We have bundles available for purchase through our SHOP on our website and we also have Sparklers Club bundles available to paying members of the Sparklers Club.

      Bundles from the SHOP:
      Here is a link to bundles that we have available for purchase through our SHOP:

      **Whatever bundle that you purchase from the SHOP, you would have access to all the lessons in the bundle.

      BUNDLES from the Sparklers Club:
      To access these bundles you would need to join the Sparklers Club. You get 3 bundles a month and would have access to all K-6 lessons in the bundles. To get on the waitlist click here: https://deepspacesparkle.lpages.co/the-sparklers-club-waitlist/

      • Denise Saunderson

        But I just want the giraffe directed draw. I really can’t find it on your site?

        • Bethany

          Hi Denise! That lesson can only be found in the Sparklers’ Club membership section.

  • Debbie Hancock

    Do you still have the video of how to draw Gerald the Giraffe, from Giraffe’s Can’t Dance?
    I used it last year as a directed drawing lesson and would like to use it again this year.

    Many thanks xx

  • Christy

    Oh my goodness! These are absolutely adorable!!!!
    I can’t wait to try these with my firsties, hoping they come out as cute as these! I love everything ya’ll share.

  • Christy

    Wouldn’t you want to do the backgrounds first so they have time to dry before gluing the giraffe or does it not matter? I have a low budget so I have mostly only used water color and don’t have a lot of experience with tempura paint, so I’m just asking.

  • Cheryl

    Is there a video to go with the lesson?

    • Bethany

      Hi Cheryl! There is a video tutorial for this lesson that is only available to Sparklers’ inside our membership program. The Sparklers’ Club Membership is an affordable and flexible pay as you go monthly membership—perfect for anyone who teaches art to students aged K-6. To join the Sparklers’ Club waitlist and learn more about The Sparklers’ Club click here: https://deepspacesparkle.lpages.co/the-sparklers-club-waitlist/

  • B. Martyn

    I am excited to try this across my lower school!

  • Julie Ramires

    Hi, I just came across this and decided to do it with my Year 1/2 class as we are doing a book study on the book. The students loved it. We did it every afternoon for a week doing little pieces and they were so engrossed in it. Thanks for the idea.

  • Angelica

    The giraffes look so cute! I can’t wait to try this with my 2nd graders.

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