cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

Recycled Cardboard Lion



This lively little lion, inspired by the illustrations of Clare Youngs, is sure to have your students roaring with excitement! With only a few basic shapes involved, students can easily create a lion with stunning results.

Students will focus on line and pattern to create bold, energetic designs with a waterproof marker on all pieces of their lion before overlapping the pieces to create one cohesive piece.

This lesson is a great opportunity to teach students how to attach pieces of cardboard together using clothespins to ensure that everything dries in the correct position and attaches securely. 

Watch a quick video tutorial here…

Click the yellow button below to DOWNLOAD the free drawing handout for the Recycled Cardboard Lion, as well as the March Freebie Pack. Just add your name and email and we’ll send it straight to you!

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– Cardboard

– Scissors

– Acrylic paint

– 12″ x 18″ scrap white paper

– Large paintbrush

– Liquid Glue

– Clothespins

– Waterproof marker

Alternative: If working with colored paper, try using these Liquid Chalk Markers from Crafty Croc, Posca Paint Pens or Brilliant Bee Liquid Chalk Markers.


cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

Pre-cut the simple shapes for the animal using scissors or a paper cutter.

Optional: paint cardboard with gesso to create a white layer if your cardboard has a lot of writing or labels.

Organize all of the various shaped pieces (refer to the Shape Guide in the March Freebie Pack, page 4) into separate containers for the students.


cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

Spread out your pieces onto a scrap 12″ x 18″ piece of white paper.

Using a large paint brush, paint one side of the pre-cut shapes with acrylic paint.

Start painting a light color first, then add a bit of the dark color around the edges to create shadows and dimension.

cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

After the paint dries, round the corners with large scissors.


cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

Use a black permanent waterproof marker to add the details.

To create visual interest, add lines to create patterns for the head. Then, add more patterns to the rest of the pieces that don’t overlap each other.

When finished, glue the pieces of the animal together with liquid glue by staring with the OVERLAPPING pieces first.

For the legs and tails, put a dot of glue on them, then slide them behind the body shape.

cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

After gluing, the pieces will be slightly wobbly. Use clothespins to clip the pieces securely together to make sure the pieces stay when drying.

cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids with video

Flip the animal over and slide back onto the 12″ x 18″ paper. Slide on the drying rack to dry.

Have you done this lesson? I’d love to hear how the instructions worked for you or if you’ve tried a new technique using other recycled materials

I created a detailed instructional video within the Sparklers Membership Club where you can also get more detailed lesson plans including National Core Art Standards, Assessment Checklists, full length instruction videos and plenty other art lessons plans to choose from.

For more information on joining, sign up to our waitlist HERE.

Click the button below to DOWNLOAD the March Freebie Pack for more fun art lesson you can use this month!

Click here to subscribe
cardboard recycled lion lesson project for kids

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  • Elia Najera

    I love this activity. I can see how I can bring art into my classroom using this project for math (area and perimeter), social studies (reusing, reducing, recycling) and Earth day (recycle project).
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Paola

      Sounds like a project we can handle!
      Thank you ♥️

  • Josiane Pacheco

    Lindo e muito criativo,através desta atividade muitos conceitos podem ser abordados.

  • Debbie Mattly

    Hello, I am unable to download the lion project. I would love to do this with my class since we are starting geometry next week. Thanks

    • Patty

      No problem. You can contact support@deepspacesparkle.com and Shannon can help 🙂

  • Jenny

    I love this idea! For young children, it’s exciting to start art with shapes!

  • Carolyne Towle

    love the projects, but I can’t download the lion and fish.

  • Tanya

    Link to download doesn’t work

    • Team Sparkle

      Thank you so much for letting us know!! We’re on it 🙂


    I love it

  • Bibi Cadima

    You made everything look so easy. Deep Space is an awesome tool for parents to help their kids make drawing and art fun learning. Thank you.

  • Sunny Jung

    My kids would love this! Thank you!

  • Krista

    Which grades would this be for?

    • Bethany

      Hi Krista! This lesson could be modified for any grade.
      K-3rd: All shapes should be precut and as students will struggle to cut the thick cardboard on their own. Remember that acrylic paint is permanent, so wear appropriate attire. Keep patterns simple or just focus on drawing different types of lines. Perhaps use paint markers or oil pastels instead of thin Sharpies. Consider creating a hot glue station for students to bring their animals to for adult assistance in gluing.
      4th+: Precut shapes, but students could round corners and cut detail pieces on their own. Allow for more freedom in paint choices and encourage more details in patterns and designs. Students can glue on their own, but having hot glue handy might be a good idea. Enjoy!

  • Lori m Phillips

    Can you post the exact sizes for shapes on the hand out? Thank you!

    • Jamie Brown

      Hi! Yes I would love these dimensions too! Also, what standards would you say this most aligns with? Thanks so miuch!

      • katherine

        Hi Jamie and Lori! No exact dimensions here, its really up to you and your artists to create a unique lion with the suggested shapes! The more unique the more interesting (and cute!) the lions will end up. As for standards, we don’t have any listed for this lesson outside of the Sparklers’ Club membership but standards related to line and shape would definitely apply.

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