Mix it up and match it up! An elephant-alligator? A zebra-giraffe? This imaginative project for preschoolers combines sorting skills, shape recognition, scientific exploration, and the visual arts into one fun activity. Additionally, this activity will help your young child to better understand basic math skills such as the part-to-whole relationship.
This mixed up animal collage will encourage your child to create unique combination animals with attributes that are all their own. This project can be as basic or as imaginative as your child makes it. The materials suggested will give you a start, but try searching your house for festive animal embellishments to make this activity even more creative.
What You Do:
- Start by cutting a variety of shapes from the construction paper. You and your child can do this together, cutting as many different kinds of shapes as you like.
- Show your child a few pictures of animals or read a book with her that has animal illustrations. Ask questions such as, “What shapes can you find in that animal?” or, “Can you find a triangle in the picture of a cat?”.
- Place the paper shapes on a table or other suitable work surface. Have your child choose shapes that look like parts from different animals. For example, rectangle horse legs, an oval pig body, a circle dog head, a triangle for a cat nose and squares for elephant ears.
- Ask your child to arrange the individual shapes into a mixed up animal. You can explain to her that it is like putting together a puzzle. She can make whatever kind of mixed up animal she likes. She can even name it!
- Then have your child glue the shapes onto a piece of construction paper to create the animal collage. Explain to her what a collage is - you can simply say that it means to glue different things onto a surface to make one whole picture out of many different parts.
- Invite your child to add embellishments to her mixed up animal. Any multitude of materials can be used. If your preschooler loves to paint, try tempera paints and a thin brush. If she enjoys crayons, give her an assortment of colors. Other ideas include craft feathers glued onto the paper as wings, fabric or felt to add texture, or crumbled tissue paper as fur.
Try doing this project many times. Each time ask your child to combine new and different animals to make her mixed up collage. Have her create a name for the new mixed up animal and decide where it might live, what sound it makes, and what it would eat.
Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.