Patchwork ‘Elmer’ the Elephant
Year Levels: F – 4
with Emma Hewett-Smiles
Click Here to download Lesson Plan
This activity is based around the popular children’s book “Elmer the Patchwork Elephant”
(more affectionately known as simply ‘Elmer’) by author David McKee
During this activity, students will refine skills in cutting and joining to create their own Elmer inspired elephant sculptures out of recycled materials that can be found around the home.
They will draw from art elements of pattern, shape and colour to complete their art works.
Art Elements & Principles
Cross-Curriculum / Capabilities Links
Literacy, Personal & Social
Explore colour and pattern
Make an Elmer inspired 3D sculpture using the art elements of, shape, pattern and colour as well as construction skills of joining and cutting.
Consider the ways of making and keeping friends, including how actions and words can help or hurt others, and the effects of modifying their behaviour.
Discuss the story of Elmer by David McKee and interpret their own meaning.
Step 1: Begin with a plastic bottle with a handle (ie: a 2 or 4 litre milk or juice bottle).
First, cut the base off. Next cut the lower part of the handle. The top of the handle becomes the elephant’s trunk.
Lastly cut some ‘U’ shapes from all sides to represent the elephant’s body and legs
*Younger students may need assistance with cutting the plastic bottle
Step 2: With your elephant body shape now cut out, you can now begin to decorate.
Use coloured paper cut to small squares (approx. 1x1cm or 2x2cm).
In fact, any kind of decorative paper will do, so get creative! See what patterned or colourful papers you have around the house? Perhaps experiment with serviettes, tissues, newspaper, magazines… it’s entirely up to you what you use to make your patchwork decorations with!
Step 3: Once you have your ‘patches’ cut out to the size you want (you might decide to use patches of varying size – this could enhance the look of your Elmer!)
Begin pasting your patchwork squares onto your elephant’s body using a graft glue such as PVA or Supertac glue.
*You will need a reasonably strong craft glue to adhere your pieces to the plastic bottle – a simple glue stick won’t suffice! Use a craft glue that comes in a bottle with an applicator nozzle or pour a small amount onto a paper plate and use icy pole popsticks or brushes as an applicator tool. (Remember to wash your brushes thoroughly with warm soapy water after your finished before the glue dries!)
Step 4: Once your patchwork covering is complete, it’s time to add some detail.
Glue on some Joggle Eyes if you have some, otherwise you could adapt by making your own eyes with paper (take some white paper, cut a small circle then colour a small black dot in the centre to represent an eye).
*Younger students may need help in positioning the eyes proportionally.
Step 5: To make the ears, cut two oval-shaped pieces the same size from your colourful/patterned/recycled paper. Attach with glue to either side of the head.
Step 6: Students could present their Elmer’s in an elephant’s parade in the lounge room or on the kitchen table. They might use their Elmer to perform an adaption of the story for grandparents and siblings.
Take it a step further…
Try making your patchwork Elmer using fabric or felt pieces!
See what scrap materials, felt or fabric you have around the house you could use…
Discussion / Reflection
What colours and patterns do you see on Elmer in the book? Which colours and patterns did you use for your Elmer?
How is your 3D sculpture different to the Elmer in the story in terms of colour, line, shape and pattern?
Materials & Equipment
2 or 4 litre Plastic Bottle (one with a handle)
Decorative Papers: Coloured paper, patterned paper, magazines, recycled paper, etc.
A good Craft Glue (PVA or Supertac)
Icy Pole / Popsticks (optional)
Adhesive brushes (optional)
Decorative felt or fabrics (optional)
Don’t have these materials at home?
Click Here to view recommended materials
Related Artwork, Links & Sources
Read the book “Elmer the Patchwork Elephant” by author David McKee
Watch & Listen to the book being read online via YouTube
Click Here to watch a video now
Share Your Outcomes!
How did you go!? We’d love you to share your artwork with us on Facebook or Instagram!