Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Drawing - Zany Zoo

The children create never-before-seen animals for a "Zany Zoo." For all ages. Plan 1 to 2 sessions.

  • Drawing from imagination
  • Recognizing the unique characteristics which define an animal.
  • Working with details and patterns.
realistic, pattern, unique characteristics

  • 12- by 18-inch white drawing paper
  • Black non-toxic permanent markers (Faber-Castell markers are odorless.)
  • Watercolor markers
  • Pencils (optional)
  • Set out the pencils, markers, and drawing paper.
  • Have the watercolor markers ready, but put aside until the drawings are completed.
How to Begin
Creating the animals
  • Explain to the children that, by combining the parts of three or more animals, they will be creating one-of-a-kind, never-before-seen animals. Ask them to imagine an animal with, for example, an alligator's head, a tiger's body, and chicken's legs; or a flying cow with bird's wings and an elephant's ears.
  • Discuss the unique characteristics which identify an animal, such as a squirrel's tail, a giraffe's neck, and a camel's hump. Emphasize the importance of patterns or designs, when identifying animals with similar body shapes, such as leopards and tigers which are immediately recognized by their spots or stripes.
  • Have the children each draw one large animal by combining the parts of three or more animals. Older children appreciate drawing with pencils first and then going over their lines with the black markers. Younger children work best drawing directly with the black markers.
  • When the drawings are completed, have the children color their animals with watercolor markers. Since this project is most effective when the parts of the animals are easily recognizable, encourage the children to use realistic colors as seen in nature.
Naming the animals
  • Have the children name their new species of animals by combining several sounds or syllables from the names of the animals used in the drawings, such as a "chelegator" (ch-ĕlĕ-gātor), which includes parts of a chicken, an elephant, and an alligator. The older children can work individually to name their animals, but plan this as a group activity with the younger children.
  • Tongue twisters are fun, as long as the children are able to pronounce the names. 
  • It's helpful to prepare a list of the unique characteristics which define some animals to use when ideas run short. For a greater variety of even zanier animals, include insect and/or fish parts.
  • Encourage the children to draw one large animal that fills their paper instead of several smaller ones.
  • For the most impact, the animals need to be easily recognizable. Encourage the children to include lots of details and use realistic colors.
  • Young children tend to fill in their work with the black markers, so be sure they understand that colored markers will be available when their drawings are completed.
  • The lighter shades of watercolor markers work best because they won't cover up the black lines of the drawings.
  • Ask the children to identify the different animal parts in the drawings.
  • Discuss what information helps them to recognize these parts.
What the children might say...
  • Do I have to use three animals?
  • Can I use ten animals?
  • My animal has four legs and they are all different.
  • Do I have to use gray for my elephant's legs? I wanted to stripe them like a tiger's legs.
  • I've never seen animals like these before!
What you might say...
  • The never-before-seen animals are more fun if you use at least three different animal parts.
  • You can decide the number of different animal parts to use as long as you have included at least three.
  • Be sure to draw and color the parts carefully, so we can have the fun of recognizing each one.
  • It will be easier to recognize the different animal parts if  you color them as they are in nature. However, you as the artist can decide how to color your animal.
  • If all these animals were in a zoo, it would surely be a Zany Zoo!
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