Art activity – animals

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Two art activities that I have given my expressive arts group:

1. Draw yourself as an animal.

The first time I gave this activity, it was very powerful. Strong, predator type animals were chosen, and they were imposing their viciousness on the people in their environment. The second time, about a year later, the activity was much more sedate.

2. What is your totem animal?

We talked about the Aboriginal tradition of assigning an animal as the child’s totem. For the Aboriginal children this task was easy. For the non-Aboriginal children, I asked them to think about an animal that represents the strengths they admire. For this activity, some of the children chose to model their totem animal in clay.

Snakes are always prominent in the children’s artwork and claywork. Snakes are sighted in the community on a regular basis (red-bellied black snakes, brown snakes) and the children are always advised to be on the lookout for snakes.


This post has been transferred from another blog, and backdated to its original posting date. I’m sorting through all of my blogs and putting things where they belong. Below are the comments that this post attracted on the other blog…

phrogmom Says:
January 23, 2011 at 8:00 am   nice idea! the frog has always been my totem!

hakea Says:
January 23, 2011 at 8:04 am   who doesn’t love frogs?!

asta199 Says:
January 23, 2011 at 8:05 am   this is a wonderful project which I think I would like to try with my kindergarten class. Thankyou for the idea!        


hakea Says:
January 23, 2011 at 8:23 am   I would just advise to be careful with containment and emotional safety. If there any kids who have child protection issues, they may choose to be a tiger that rips the hearts out of their family members. Don’t be surprised by it, and allow those kids to express themselves without judgement. Those artworks should not go home.

hakea Says:
January 23, 2011 at 9:16 am   oh, and if you are doing the first activity, it might be a good idea to organise outside time afterwards, so all those ‘wild things’ get to release some energy!

asta199 Says:
January 23, 2011 at 9:59 am   Thanks for the warning- I will certainly be careful with this activity. I regularly set up play spaces using different kinds of animals and am always interested in how children choose certain animals to act out issues they might be working through.

yelenam Says:
January 23, 2011 at 3:44 pm   Hakea, this is a great activity. I think I might have to modify it for my little one. Maybe start by asking him about what animal would he be and then giving him different pictures of “his” animal (from, say, National Geographic) to cut out and glue onto poster board. This is so interesting, I can’t wait to try this!

hakea Says:
January 23, 2011 at 5:26 pm   That’s a good way to engage the child and motivate research on the topic. Good one!


About Narelle Smith

Child & Family Worker

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