Teach your students basic facts about the Indian Elephant and its habitat. This lesson plan can also help develop cultural knowledge, language skills, creative skills and fine motor skills.
- Posters, photographs and videos of Indian elephants
- Posters, photographs and videos of India
- Map of India
- Drawing paper
- Card stock sheets
- Toilet paper tube
- A glass or cup
- Wool or ribbon
- Wiggly eyes
Background Knowledge for Teacher
Elephants, the largest land mammals, belong to the Order Proboscidea. There are three species, the Asian elephant, the Savanna elephant and the Forest elephant. The Asian elephant has four subspecies, the Indian elephant, the Sumatran elephant, the Sri Lankan elephant and the Borneo elephant.
The Indian elephant, known zoologically as Elephas maximus indica, is, in the wild, found in forested areas in India, Pakistan, Bangaldesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand. It is an endangered animal.
Indian elephants are smaller in size than African elephants, and have smaller ears and tusks. They are also more amenable in nature, and can be trained to work with people.
Over centuries, Indian elephants have been used for work, for entertainment and for military purposes. The Indian elephant is also revered in the Hindu religion. The Hindu god, Ganesh, has the head of an elephant, and elephants take part in many temple festivals.
- Show the children posters and photographs of Indian elephants. The photographs should be of wild elephants in the forest, as well of tame elephants working with people or decked up for temple festivals. Point out in the map of India where the elephants are found.
- Talk about what an Indian elephant looks like – how it has a long trunk, small eyes, floppy ears, two-domed head, a curved, bumpy back, wrinkled skin, thick pillar-like legs and a bristly tail. Tell the children that Indian elephants can grow to be around 11 feet tall (indicate the height of the room) and can weight around 500 tons. (Compare this with the size of the room and the weight of a truck).
- Talk about the elephant’s trunk, how it is a combination of nose and upper lip, and how the elephant uses it to breathe, to smell, to feel, to suck in water, to pick up objects, to pull things, to trumpet and communicate with other elephants.
- Talk about the elephant’s ears and tail. The elephant keeps cool by fanning its ears, and uses the ears and tail to shoo away flies and other insects.
- Talk about the elephants legs and toed feet. Show the children videos of elephants walking and running. Elephants walk very sedately and they can run very fast.
- Talk about the elephant’s ivory tusks. These are the outside teeth of the elephant. They are used for digging, for pushing and for fighting. Elephants have inside teeth that they use for eating.
- Elephants eat only vegetarian food. They like fruit, vegetables, grains, leaves, grass and bark.
- Being social animals, elephants live with their family and friends in herds. The oldest female in the herd is its leader and is known as the Matriarch. She makes sure everyone is okay and is behaving well. Like us, elephants too have emotions, and can get happy and sad and even angry and lose their temper. Sometimes they can be greedy and don’t like to share, and then the Matriarch lets them know that such behavior is not nice.
- Elephants like to play, especially the young ones. They chase each other, roll on the ground and play tricks on their elders. On hot days, elephants like to wallow in mud or in water. They are very good swimmers.
Have your students draw elephants on drawing paper. They can refer to the poster and the photographs mentioned above to make their drawings. They can draw one elephant or several, in whatever setting they like. Once they have finished their drawing they can color and decorate it using markers and crayons.
Next, show the children how to place a glass or a cup upside down on a piece of card stock and help them trace the circular outline. Do the same using the rim of the toilet paper roll. They will need to make a circle for the head, one for the body and two circle for the ears. Then have them draw two rectangles for legs using a ruler or freehand. Have them draw a trunk shape freehand. Let the children cut out all these shapes with the scissors. (The children may need some assistance with their shapes and having them drawn out chart paper for examples will help also.)
Taking a large circle as the head of the elephant, have your preschoolers glue two smaller circles behind it on either side to represent the ears. Have them glue the trunk shape between the ears. Using another large circle to make the body, have them glue the body to the head and then have them glue the two rectangles to that to make the legs. Have students glue on the wiggly eyes and color the elephant. To make the work stand up, you can use glue to stick it to the toilet role tube. (Instead of the trunk shape and the toilet role tube, the children can also make a hole in the trunk region and insert a finger through that to make a trunk that moves!)
You could also have the children write and color the letter E, and the word elephant on a hand-made worksheet.
- Ask the children if they have seen a real elephant and where they saw it.
- Ask them to tell you what they have learned about the elephant
- Ask them if they know any elephant stories and poems or if they have seen any TV programs or cartoons showing elephants.
- Ask them to pretend that they are an elephant and tell you what they would like to do.
- Ask them which letter of the alphabet is the first letter of the word elephant, and how it is written.
- Ask them to spell the word elephant (this may be more for advanced students.)
- Hand out picture books where your preschoolers can read all about elephants. Some of these may include fictional elephant stories as well. The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff is particularly liked by children at this age level.
- Hand out elephant coloring pages.
- Hand out jigsaw puzzles featuring elephants. You can find some online at Jigsaw Zone
- See a cartoon featuring Dumbo, the Disney elephant.
Videos of Indian elephants on YouTube
- Wild indian elephant
- Elephants of Kaziranga National Park, India
- Wild Indian Elephants II
- Baby Indian Elephants Trail Their Mother
Videos of elephants painting on YouTube
- Original Elephant Painting
- Elephant Painting Poppy Flowers
- Elephant Painting Self Portrait