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Sock Monkey Art Lesson


Aren’t these the most adorable things you’ve ever seen? I spotted a Sock Monkey Calendar at a bookstore and knew the colorful photographs would make an outstanding art lesson. I mean who doesn’t like these nostalgic toys? The lesson is easy and introduces a new technique for my students: paint scratching. The collage aspect of this lesson fills the much needed desire for kids to cut, paste and create.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 12 x 18″ colored Tru-Ray Sulphite paper (construction paper).
  • Black oil pastel
  • Palette of brown, white and red tempera paint
  • Colored yarn, ric-rac, pom-poms, googly eyes, painted paper or paper scraps, buttons…anything decorative!

Drawing and painting the monkey: Sock-monkey-art-painting

Step 1: I use a directed line drawing approach to drawing the sock monkey figuring it never hurts to have a good base for all the decorative fun that’s coming in step three. No need for elaborate instructions as you can see the drawing is quite easy:

  1. Draw two dots for eyes
  2. Below the “eyes” draw a large ovals on its side. Then draw another larger oval around that. Add a line in the middle for the mouth.
  3. Starting at the outside oval on the left hand side, draw a line up and around to the other side of the oval. This will become the head.
  4. Draw a curved line at the top of the head to mimic toe reinforcements.
  5. Add two ears to the side of the head.
  6. Draw a simple body and skinny arms.

Step 2: Painting

Using white tempera paint (do not wet brushes), paint the mouth and the top of the head with white paint. Let dry slightly and then paint over the white area with brown or black paint. The paint in this picture looks purple, huh? It’s really brown. Turn the brush around and with the tip, scratch lines away to mimic ribbing. Tip: Do not let brown paint dry. It’s critical that the wet brown paint slide right over the dried white paint. Kids love this part! Finish painting the body with brown or even gray paint (use the double-load technique with the black and white paint). Paint mouth and ears red.

Step 3: Outlining

Use an oil pastel to trace over all dry painted black lines.

Adding the decorations Sock-monkey-art-decorating

Step 4: Set out tray of embellishments (goggly eyes, ric-rac, fabric scrpas, painted paper scraps) and demonstrate a few easy ways to decorate the sock monkey. I show options for eyes, show how to cut a piece of paper to fit the head and even make simple pom-pons. Here’s a link on how to make pom-poms

Step 5: Use painted paper scraps to add clothing to the sock monkey. Children used spatial awareness to lay a piece of paper over their sock monkey and cut-to-fit their garments.

Grade Three Sock Monkeys



  1. This is darling! I have always thought monkeys are so hard to make but you make it look so simple here.

    Deborah (Teach Preschool)

    February 27, 2010

  2. Wow! Another great project! I'm off on maternity leave, when I visit your blog I get so inspired and I can't wait to try this one out in a couple of months!


    February 27, 2010

  3. These are FANTASTIC! I was looking for something fun to do before spring break and I think the kids will LOVE this. Thank you for your blog, THANK YOU!


    February 27, 2010

  4. So happy and fun!! I bet these look FABULOUS in the hallway!! : )

    pink and green mama

    February 28, 2010

  5. Patty,

    You are just too cool! Love it! I have to get myself to a school that you are working at when I come back. I need weekly art with you. So much fun!!!!!


    February 28, 2010

  6. Thanks everyone…these monkeys were a BLAST to make. Really. The kids were spell-bound during the directed drawing and absolutely frenetic with the creative collage. Couldn't ask for more.

    Patty P

    February 28, 2010

  7. What a wonderful lesson. It reminds me of the sock monkeys my grandma was so good at making. She sewed them up like crazy. And the outfits were outrageous! Thanks for the inspiring idea. I bet some of my students would love to do this assignment.


    March 1, 2010

  8. Adorable~ This would be a great go along with reading "Caps for Sale".
    thank you for sharing!
    You ALWAYS inspire me.


    March 2, 2010

    • This is one of our first projects of the year and it has been so much fun. The 3rd graders had some monkeys outside their classroom that says “Third Graders Don’t Monkey Around” . So I thought ….well sometimes-like with this project! And I did begin with “Caps For Sale”- thanks for the suggestion!


      September 22, 2011

  9. "Can I have a blue mouth?" Exactly what he said!

    Patty P

    March 4, 2010

  10. These are precious!!! I love sock monkeys!!


    May 17, 2011

  11. These are fantastic! We made these and had a lot of fun! Thanks for this great site.


    January 26, 2012

    • Glad you liked it…it’s one of my favorites!


      January 30, 2012

  12. My daughter and I did these today, she is in first grade and they came out super cute!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Jessica Monnich

    September 13, 2012

  13. Love this art project! It will be fun to make these at an upcoming birthday party, featuring sockmonkeys. I am going to use paperbags for these cuties and Caps for Sale has been enjoyed for many years too. Thank you for sharing.

    Kim jensen

    May 18, 2013

  14. Was this two or three sessions?

    Andrea Werboff

    January 26, 2016

    • I think three.

      Patty Palmer

      January 27, 2016

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