Book and activity for Elmer the Elephant

I love “Elmer the Elephant” by David McKee! Yes, I do!

Where possible, I try to collect my favorite story book characters to go along with each of my favorite books. While reading Elmer the Elephant, I let the children take turns holding the elephant. Each time I turn the page, the children pass the elephant to the next child in the circle.

Elmer has so much color in his patchwork coat that it is only natural to follow up the book with a little patchwork sponge painting.

Start with a grocery bag, cut apart, to use as the canvas because the color of the paper bag has a good coloring to resemble the elephant before adding a colorful coat.

Trace around an elephant shaped template. I like to use Craft Foam for my templates because it is nice and thick and easy to work with for tracing. I can save all my craft foam templates for later on as well.

I cut up a sponge into little squares/rectangles and set each one in a dab of paint.

Cut out the elephant shape from the paper bag and place it on another paper bag for painting.

Then start sponge painting the elephant.

Now my boring brown elephant has a colorful patchwork coat just like Elmer!!

The process for making an Elmer will vary depending on the age of your students.  Don’t discount the idea of just sponge painting on the paper bag without making an elephant shape first!

You can purchase this book here…


By |2010-08-08T10:57:36+00:00August 8th, 2010|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Teacher Tom August 8, 2010 at 11:37 am - Reply

    This is a great idea Deborah!

    My only problem is that I might have trouble coming up with enough brown paper bags! In the past few years, the city of Seattle has done such a good job of getting us to all use reusable cloth shopping bags that I almost never get paper or plastic ones any more. I wonder if school suppliers will start manufacturing them just for teachers, the way they now make wooden push on clothes pins, popsicle sticks and thread spools for us . . . While they’re at it, maybe they’ll also make us film canisters as well. =)

    • Deborah J. Stewart August 8, 2010 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      LOL! I think you are on to something there! I suppose you could use plain old construction paper for the elephant:) Or maybe packing paper if you have some handy.

  2. Shar August 8, 2010 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    It’s a lovely activity Deborah. Thank you 🙂

  3. Cathy @ NurtureStore August 8, 2010 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    Ahh, we love Elmer too. We also like to make all the other elephants in the parade so each child can make their own design.

  4. Katherine Marie August 8, 2010 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    Absolutely ADORABLE!!!!!! I’m going to add this to my tumbler TO DO LIST! 🙂

  5. Sherry and Donna August 9, 2010 at 7:46 am - Reply

    We also love Elmer the elephant Deborah and the paint stamping activity is a great way to follow up the story. We have done a similar Elmer activity only we had our children draw and cut out their own elephant shapes. No two were the same, all were different, all were unique. Just like in the story really!
    Donna 🙂 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart August 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm - Reply

      Even better when they can cut out their own elephants – you are right no when you say “no two are the same” … that is what Elmer is all about!

  6. Cindy S August 9, 2010 at 9:27 am - Reply

    I love this idea! In the past, I have cut up little squares, rectangles from different colored tissue paper and the children use a glue wash to adher to an elephant cut out. I use card stock paper for this project because it is thicker and more sturdy than construction paper.

    I like the sponge paint idea because the children’s little fingers get really sticky and they get frustrated when using the glue wash.

    • Deborah J. Stewart August 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      I have tried many other Elmer ideas too – there are so many variations one can try! I think that is part of the fun of this book!

  7. Ayn Colsh August 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    How did I miss this???? My aunt, a teacher, loved Elmer. When she retired, I inherited all her Elmer stuff. I’m always looking for good Elmer ideas and here you are posting them right under my nose when I’m being a blog slacker!

    • Deborah J. Stewart August 9, 2010 at 7:53 pm - Reply

      LOL – I love anyone who loves Elmer as much as me:) It is nice to have your comment Ayn!!

  8. Clemencia August 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much for this hands-on activities, just what I need to start doing again with my daughter, thanks so much for the inspiration! I love your blog 🙂

  9. Nadia August 31, 2010 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    This looks like a fun activity. We haven’t read Elmer. Could you recommend a book for us that would be a good intro to elmer? I see that there are so many Elmber books that i’m not really sure which one to choose. I think its a great idea to have a stuffed animal for each story!
    When I was younger I remember my teacher reading to us “If you give a mouse a cookie” and she had a mouse stuffed animal that was exactly like the one in the book. Each night she allowed one child to take it home and learn a little about responsibility by taking care of the mouse until the day they would bring the mouse back to school. It is one of my strongest memories as a child in school… I hope to get a stuffed animal like that for my kids. 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart August 31, 2010 at 4:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Nadia,
      I recommend starting with the original version simply Titled “Elmer” by David McKee. It is the same as the photo I show here. It is does a nice job introducing who Elmer is and how he is different from all the other Elephants.

  10. Norma September 1, 2010 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    adorable!!! the blog has many funny and creative activities, i’ll try this with my kids. tks, greetings from Argentina

  11. maggy, red ted art September 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    Oh my, what a BRILLIANT Elmer. Fabulous result! Am very impressed. If I did that with my toddler, he would try and mix up all the colours and make one big brown mess… Mmmh. Maybe in 4-5months we can try!!

    Thank you. Love having crafts that we can “work towards”.

    And thank you for linking up to Kids Get Crafty! Fabulous! hopefully see you again next week!

    Red Ted Art

  12. JDaniel4's Mom September 3, 2010 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    The elephant came out so well. What a great craft.

  13. Angie October 1, 2010 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I am not good at drawing out pictures, is there a link that I can just print out Elmer and cut him out?
    I love your site!

  14. Miss Mommy January 2, 2011 at 12:13 am - Reply

    Found you through the blog hop at Lots of Fun with My Family, though I have been reading your blog for a while. I LOVE this idea for the book Elmer, though I agree with Teacher Tom’s comment – not sure where I’ll get shopping bags. 🙂 I think we have a roll of brown craft paper at school. I’ll be sure to try that. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Deborah J. Stewart January 2, 2011 at 12:47 am - Reply

      Thank you for stopping by:) Blog hops are such a nice feature to take part in:)

  15. Grace January 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    I love Elmer too. This is great!

    Happy New Year!!

    Fellow Blog Hopper:)

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