Happy World Elephant Day! Besides being adorable animals, elephants make great craft models.
Crafts are a fantastic (or elephantastic 😉) way to incorporate so many fine motor, sensory, and speech-language skills! Follow along with the steps below to make your very own elephant at home:
Paper towel tube
Gray crayon, marker, or paint
3 pieces of blue or gray construction paper
1 piece of pink construction paper
2 googly eyes
1. Color or paint the back of your paper plate gray. This will become your elephant's face!
2. While it is drying, draw and cut out 2 large heart shapes, each one on a separate piece of blue construction paper. OT Tip: fold the paper in half and draw half of heart shape. This saves you some cutting time and ensures your heart will be symmetrical. Save the other blue piece for later.
3. Draw 2 smaller heart shapes on the pink piece of paper. These will be the inner pink parts of the elephant's ears.
4. Glue the pink paper onto the blue paper to make 2 ears. Once dry, glue your paper plate on top of the paper ears.
5. Using your final piece of blue paper, cut a rectangle shape to cover your paper towel tube. You may cut the paper towel tube to be a shorter trunk for your elephant. Glue the blue paper onto the tube.
6. Glue the covered tube in the middle of the plate as your elephant's trunk. Add on your googly eyes above the trunk and use your marker to draw a mouth below the trunk.
Bonus: For an added fine motor and visual motor challenge, have your child crumple small pieces of tissue paper to "feed" into the trunk.
Bilateral Coordination: This craft works on coordinating the two sides of the body. Cutting paper requires the left hand to stabilize or hold the paper, while the right hand manipulates the scissors.
Multi-step Planning and Sequencing: This is an important skill for kids to follow their routines throughout the day--whether it is remembering to get dressing and brush teeth as part of the morning routine or knowing what to do when the teacher says "time to pack up your bags!" Have your child try to follow along with the steps of the craft and use the pictures to recognize what action is needed next.
Fine Motor Skills: Coloring, cutting, and gluing all require different grasp patterns and graded force. The bonus step of crumpling the paper can be performed with 2 hands or just 1 hand to really engage the small muscles of the fingers.
Visual Motor Skills: This skill refers to the coordination of what the eyes see with what the body performs. Have your child try to cut on or near the heart shape drawn for the ears. See if they can glue in the correct spot to adhere the googly eyes. The bonus step engages visual motor skills as the eyes recognize the target space for the fingers to drop the tissue paper "food."
Sensory Processing: Crafts involve many different textures and tools, which is great exposure to improve sensory modulation and sensory discrimination. This allows your child to take in information from the environment and be able to use it for functional activities.
Play: All of these skills are built into a fun and motivating activity....this is the ultimate goal!
Remember, it is about the process, not the product. It is perfectly okay if your child's elephant looks different than the example presented here. Instead, focus on how they are completing the activity, by using their hands, eyes, and brains. If you have any questions about the presented information or concerns related to any of the targeted skill areas, reach out to an occupational therapist.
We would love to see your hard work...Share pictures of your final product with us @expressiveconnections!