Children learn about Elephants

by Mary Ann on August 29, 2011

paper plate elephant craft with  wrinkly nose

Jack's elephant with the wrinkly nose

Jack wanted to learn about elephants! He mentioned it for two weeks. So this last Traveling Closet was all about elephants. I had a ton of things to do and we only got to a portion of them. However, I am going to share all the resources I took with me. You can spread them out over a week’s time. There are tons of books, two elephant crafts for kids, two fun games, two great songs and a darling snack.

elephant movies picture

Two elephantastic movies

We began with a book. It seems like we always begin with a book. Hmmmm thinking back, we actually  began on Monday with an elephant video for kids called “The Impossible Elephant”. The children loved watching a real elephant. We talked about how they walked, that baby elephants have fuzzy heads and that they use their trunks just like hands. We also had the Babar Movie but they liked the real deal better. The Impossible Elephant held Mary’s attention (she is 20 months old) and would probably entertain up to 10 or 11.

So on Friday at Grandma School we began with a book. We read all about a baby elephant and how he played in the water with all of his very hot and tired friends.

Elephant Crafts for kids:

Then we made a paper plate elephant craft, a darling elephant with (as Jack put it) a wrinkly nose. He just couldn’t get the hang of fan folding but we had fun working it out. Mary loved gluing. Mhmmm, just gluing. She used her Qtip to glue under the eyes, on top of the eyes and everywhere else we would let her. She tasted it and liked it and tasted the glue again. YUCK!

making elephant ears with paper plate

Maggie and Mary making elephant ears

Another fun elephant creating craft looks like this. Just a little hand print with ears added.

elephant handprint craft picture

Small hand prints marching through the jungle!

Elephant Songs for Kids:

We sang two elephant songs. They were easy and to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell and Did You Ever See a Lassie.

Did You Ever See An Elephant – spray water with his trunk, eat peanuts, hug her baby, etc.

The Elephants are Here – the elephants are exercising now, spinning around, touching their toes, are all exhausted now, etc.

We all enjoyed the activity of moving around and singing and dancing.

Elephant Games for Kids:

I had a wonderful game which we didn’t play called Pass the Peanut. Slide daddy’s socks up over the child’s arm leaving them hanging wrinkled on the arm and hand. Then a child passes a peanut (in this case we used a small ball) to the next child and so forth. It isn’t as easy as it sounds with a wrinkled sock on you hand!

Here is another game that is really fun called “What’s in the Box?” You put some small items in a box such as a spoon, comb, ball, banana, etc. Then each child takes a turn feeling in the box with their sock covered trunks. They pick an item and then try to guess what it is by feeling it.

Of course we read a few more books. We had one book which showed what an elephant looks like on the inside and what a baby elephant looks like inside his mother. We also saw a person, elephant and blue whale compared to each other. If you think the elephant is REALLY big, think again!

Painting like an elephant activity:

Our favorite activity by far was painting like an elephant. We had a fabulous book which showed elephants learning to paint along side children. They do a pretty fair job of it too. One elephant painting sold for $39,000. Imagine. We taped the brushes to the back side of our hands and then painted as if it was our trunk. Maggie who has Cerebral Palsy really did well with that. The little boys didn’t like the brush tapped on their hands and so we eventually went back to hand painting, except Mary who tried mouth painting!

kids painting like elephant

Painting like elephants

For our snack we made biscuit elephants. Now that was a project that everyone could get into. You start with an inexpensive can of rolls. Ours sat out on the table for too long. When I banged the container on the table five rolls blew out, flew through the air and smacked Maggie on her face and head. We laughed and laughed.

little girl with her baking roll

Maggie excited to bake, just before the biscuit explosion!

You use butter knives or plastic knives to make two cuts in the biscuit. That creates the ears and truck. Pinch the trunk together until it looks more trunky. Add raisin eyes and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

biscuit elephant picture

Our elephant biscuits

At the end of the day Jack said, “Thanks for learning us stuff grandma!” Have elephantastic time learning all about these mighty and gentle creatures.

Elephant Facts for Kids:

  • There are two types of elephant, the Asian elephant and the African elephant (although sometimes the African Elephant is split into two species, the African Forest Elephant and the African Bush Elephant).
  • Elephants are the largest land-living mammal in the world.
  • Both female and male African elephants have tusks but only the male Asian elephants have tusks. They use their tusks for digging and finding food.
  • Female elephants are called cows. They start to have calves when they are about 12 years old and they are pregnant for 22 months.
  • An elephant can use its tusks to dig for ground water. An adult elephant needs to drink around 210 litres of water a day.
  • Elephants have large, thin ears. Their ears are made up of a complex network of blood vessels which with regulating an elephants temperature. Blood is circulated through their ears to cool them down in hot climates.
  • Elephants have no natural predators. However, lions will sometimes prey on young or weak elephants in the wild. The main risk to elephants is from humans through poaching and changes to their habitat.
  • The elephant’s trunk is able to sense the size, shape and temperature of an object.
  • An elephant uses its trunk to lift food and suck up water then pour it into its mouth.
  • An elephant’s trunk can grow to be about 2 metres long and can weigh up to 140 kg. Some scientists believe that an elephant’s trunk is made up of 100,000 muscles, but no bones.
  • Female elephants spend their entire lives living in large groups called herds. Male elephant leave their herds at about 13 years old and live fairly solitary lives from this point.
  • Elephants can swim – they use their trunk to breathe like a snorkel in deep water.
  • Elephants are herbivores and can spend up to 16 hours days collecting leaves, twigs, bamboo and roots.

Elephant Books for kids:

  • How to Catch and Elephant by Amy Schwartz
  • Picture Library: Elephants by N. S. Barrett
  • I Dream of an Elephant by Ami Rubinger
  • Elephants Can Paint Too by Katya Arnold
  • Splash by Flora McDonnell
  • Oliver by Sid Hoff
  • Hurty Feelings by Helen Lester
  • Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya
  • The Babar Series by Jean de Brunhoff
  • Dr. De Soto Goes to Africa by William Steig
  • Tacky in Trouble by Lynn Munsinger
  • Bernard Goes to School by Joan Elizabeth
  • What did One Elephant Say to another by Becky Baines (The kids loved this one)
  • Elephants (Zoo Book) by John Bonnett Wexo
  • The elephant book by Ian Redmond
  • Endangered Species: Elephants by Peter Jackson
  • Elephants by Gloria G. Schlaepfer
  • Hnasa: The True Story of an Asian Elephant Baby by Clare Hodgson Meeker
  • Elephant Hospital by Kathy Darling

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