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Fun Art Projects About the Elephant for First Graders

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

Elementary kids, especially first graders, love elephants. With their massive size and long trunks, they are fascinating. To bring this love of animals into the classroom, try these projects using a variety of materials!

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    First Grade Art Objectives

    Although art objectives differ specifically from district to district and state to state, most first grade art curriculums are similar in the skills and experiences first graders should have with art. From using different textured materials such as paper or clay to creating types of art pieces like sculptures or painted scenes, first graders are being introduced to art in many forms. The following ideas take these objectives into consideration while also focusing on a popular theme: elephants. These elephant art projects for first grade should work for any art teacher or general classroom teacher.

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    Elephant Sculptures

    One art activity that many elementary students enjoy is sculpting with clay. After allowing students time to mold and work the clay, give them directions to create an elephant head. Make sure to have plenty of pictures of elephants posted in the room, so they can model their sculptures after the live animal.

    Here are some basic directions in sculpting an elephant's head, so first graders are not overwhelmed by the process.

    1. Start with the head. Create a ball (you can decide about how large you want the ball to be based on how much clay you have for each student) for the head.
    2. Sculpt the ears. Spend some time looking at photos of an elephant's ear, so students can see the shape. Talk about how the ears are large, but they still have to be in proportion with the head.
    3. Attach the ears to the head.
    4. Now the fun part! Make a trunk. Students can roll clay between their hands to create the trunk shape, and then attach it.
    5. Use a sharpened pencil to draw eyes and a mouth directly into the clay. Don't forget during this activity to refer students to the elephant photos.

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    Paint a Scene

    Elephant art projects can encompass a few objectives in the same project. In this activity, students are copying a scene and using paint as the media. The first thing you need to do is find some scenes with elephants in them. They could be at the zoo, in the jungle, or anywhere really--as long as there's at least one elephant.

    Discuss with students the different scenes and the objects in the scenes. Talk about how you would sketch these or draw these on paper. Then ask them to choose one of the scenes to recreate on their own paper.

    Finally, students paint their elephant scene, trying to recreate one of the photos you discussed with them.

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    Abstract Elephant Collage

    In this art project, students will create a colorful elephant. You can either give them the outline of an elephant on white paper, you can ask them to trace an elephant figure, or you can have them attempt to draw their own elephant. The important thing is that the elephant's body should be wide enough that students can glue pieces of paper into the center of the elephant to create an elephant collage.

    Here are the directions:

    1. Pass out the elephant shape to students or ask them to draw an elephant on a piece of paper.

    2. Give students different colors of tissue paper, colorful magazine ads or some other type of colorful paper. Students should cut these into tiny pieces. They can create any shapes they want. They can make some pieces larger than others.

    3. Students use glue to create a collage of color inside the elephant's body, including his head, legs, ears, trunk and tail.

    4. When students are finished, the elephant should be covered in different colors.

    5. Students can put the elephant in its natural habitat to extend this art activity and meet science objectives by drawing a jungle scene around the animal.

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    Extension Activities

    Besides these three elephant art projects, first graders can also make an elephant face out of a paper plate and color it gray. They can use gray construction paper to make a trunk and glue it on to the plate. Then teachers can pass out a real peanut to glue on to the elephant's trunk.

    Teachers can extend any of these activities and meet other objectives by asking students to write facts about elephants to hang with their art project displays. First graders can write a sentence on something they learned about the elephant or its habitat. They can also do math activities with these projects. For example, with the elephant sculptures, teachers can ask questions such as, "Whose is the largest? Whose is the smallest? How many total ears do we have in this class?" and so on.

    Use art time to practice and master other subjects' objectives and make learning fun!

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    First Grade Learning Objectives for Visual Art:

    About Elephants:

    16 years experience as an elementary and preschool teacher

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