Elephant Power!

First Grade     washable marker elephants

These elephants are so much fun and always come out great!
Day one-
First, the children spend an entire class drawing their elephants. I will put an image up front to reference.
As a "cheat"...I will put a dot on everyone's paper right at the place I want them to start drawing.  On this image, it was the top of the head.  This helps to get students on track with proper spacing.  We continue with step by step directions as I draw an example line and then monitor the room.  You may need to help them with important ideas, like: the belly is lower in the back and comes up hill to the armpit or to make "gum drop" toe nails.
Day two-
We trace the entire body with washable black marker!
The wrinkles, toe nails, eye and tail hair get a fine tip permanent marker!
Day three-
With plain water...brush over the little guy.  First, wet inside the belly and head (away from the edge).  Then, Simply trace over the actual washable marker outline.  The marker "bleeds" and spreads right into the pre-wet areas of the elephant with spectacular results!  Do not over do it.  I tell students that the best ones have light and dark places (shadows and shines).
Day four-
Paint a background.  I chose this fun sunset marbled paper that already had perfect African sky colors.  Encourage kids to place their little trees where the elephant might not hide all of it. Any paint will do, but I used tempra. 
Day five-
Cut, keeping a nice black edge. Students glued as I helped them to flip over their elephants. 



  1. These are the coolest use of wet marker! I have to find a book about elephants so I can do this project! Do you know any good ones? How long are your classes?

  2. Hi Erica!
    Thanks for visiting. I hope you decide to follow me on the side bar...I would love to have you.
    As far as the elephants go- I love these! The kids literally go "whooaaaa!" as the marker blobs out into the elephant.

    I have a media projector that has spoiled our room! I can pop anything up from the internet and do so with the elephant images from Google. I find a good side profile image and have kids start from the top of the head. I use drawing references like "have your pencil walk uuuppp the hill, now sled down and around..." I will also have kids use their fingers to measure their chubby elephant legs "fatter than their fingers." I have them put their fist where the elephants "tushy" will be (that gets a laugh- but makes a good measure). They do not trace...just mark out where to STOP the back and start up their round tushies. I do hope this helps, sorry I do not have a great book. I will change my blog to ask for viewer to help you.
    Good luck!

  3. A project kind of like yours was posted recently. It reminded me that I need to try this project. I have had it on my 'try it' list ever since you posted it.


    Nic Hahn

  4. I love this one...actually it is coming up soon in my plans! Please give it a whirl- I really think you will like it. (The kids really do). When the washable marker starts to run/bleed the kids break out in "wows," "ohs" and "ahhhhs." That is a quick step by the way. Don't let them OVER WORK that one. Mr. Elephant will lose his range of gray scale. Hey...I think I will have to tell the kids that vocab. term during the lesson! That will be a great Art Smart moment! Please let me know how they turn out or any questions!

  5. Yes I came back to this link from Deep Space Sparkle. Totally forgot to try this. We did try the marker technique described by http://pezzettinoart.blogspot.com/ to create organic and geometric shapes so it might be a nice extension! http://pezzettinoart.blogspot.com/2010/09/happy-accidents.html

  6. I just did this lesson using washable marker and water combined with a printed background to create Indian Elephant Art. Thanks for the idea for such a great technique!


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