A hands-on craft teaches children the basic properties of animal anatomy and encourages creativity, patience, and determination as they participate in a long-term visuals arts craft.
- Floral wire
- Wire cutters
- Masking tape
- Newsprint or loose leaf paper
- Papier mache mixture (white glue and water or flour and water)
- Miscellaneous crafting materials
This craft will likely be completed over 2-4 days, depending on the length of your program time and the pace of your participants. Let your participants know that you will be creating some animal sculptures and they are to choose an animal (real, not extinct, not an insect or human) that they are interested in creating. Using the craft materials as visual representations of the parts of animals, participants will be engaged in creating and learning.
- Working with the wire, participants will create the “skeleton” of their animal
- Use the wire cutters to cut a length of wire that will act as the “spine” of the animal. The spine also includes the neck, so if your animal has a long neck, your spine wire should be cut longer.
- If the animal has a tail, it is also included as part of the spine, so cut a longer length to accommodate.
- Does the animal have legs? Cut a length of wire equal to the length of 2 legs, place it over the spine forming a “T” shape, and wrap a piece of tape around their intersection. Repeat this if there are 4 legs or 2 arms as well.
- Does the animal have wings? Do the same as with legs, but cut a much longer length of wire.
- Participants will tear and crumple paper to form the “muscle and fat” of the animal. This step allows them to control the thickness of their animal.
- Tear and crumple the paper into a long form. Take a piece of tape and stick one end of the paper to the top of the spine. Wrap the paper around the length of the spine and tape it down when you reach the end.
- Continue with another piece of paper if you didn’t reach the end of the spine. Do the same for the arms/legs.
- For the head, crumple up some paper into a ball, or more oval shape if your animal has a snout, place it at the neck. Tape it into place.
- Once they’ve completely wrapped their wire in paper, they can form their animal into any position they want.
- With more paper and the papier mache mixture, participants will create the “skin” of their animal.
- Tear several small pieces of paper. Dip a piece into the mixture and wipe off any extra. Place the wet strip onto the sculpture, making sure to smooth it down as much as possible.
- Cover the entire sculpture in papier mache pieces and do 3-4 full layers. The more layers means that the sculpture will be stiffer when it dries and thus more durable.
- Leave to dry for 24 hours.
- Once the papier mache has completely dried, participants will use the paint to bring the appearance of their animal to life. And no need to be realistic in the animal’s colouring.
- Take the creativity further with extra crafting materials like fabric/felt for clothes or yarn for hair/fur.
- You can also consider doing this activity making themselves, mythical creatures, or insects. Each category has a slightly different tactic in creating.
- Sometimes children can get distracted during long-term activities when they can’t immediately see the end result. Be sure to continuously reassure them and remind them that not to worry about it looking “good.” Encourage patience and support them throughout.
Some kids will say a lot, others not so much, but have each participant say a few things about their animal, like the kind of environment it lives in, the type of food it eats, and its name.