If heading to the zoo to experience wildlife firsthand isn’t always an option for you and your little animal-lovers, a critter-themed crafting session might be the next best thing. A homemade menagerie of creatures is wonderful as DIY decor for a playroom, or can be unique toys that’ll keep kids occupied from creation to (inevitable) destruction. So, set your future veterinarians and biologists to work creating their favorite animals out of cardboard, paper, and washable paint with any one of these fantastic ideas.
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Hand Print Flamingo Art
Especially perfect for those little ones who like to work on their scissor skills, this hand print artwork allows for colorful, tangible creativity. Encourage kids to decorate their flamingos’ habitats and backgrounds too, and don’t hesitate to create a variety of different hand print-based animal art (think: monkeys, parrots, or even octopi).
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Paper Bag Zebra Puppet
Stamp-paint black stripes onto plain white paper lunch bags to imitate a zebra’s stripes and to create the perfect paper bag puppet. Use a thick foam paintbrush for easy, even stripe application, or substitute a kitchen sponge or foam hair roller in a pinch. Don’t forget the zebra’s paper fringe flat top to add a bit of personality to your homemade puppet.
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Cardboard Tube Owl
Rescue that stack of cardboard tubes from the recycling bin for the ultimate kids’ craft experience. Here, empty tubes are reimagined to make cute little owls. Don’t forget a pair of paper wings and expressive eyes to complete the craft.
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Craft Stick Farm Animals
With a blank craft stick (or a dozen) as craft media, the zoological possibilities are endless. Using barnyard animals as inspiration, encourage kids to create their own versions with washable paint, buttons, and fuzzy pom-poms. Bonus points if they create an original puppet show using their homemade craft stick farm animals.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Small Cup Squirrel
A curled paper tail really brings this simple squirrel craft to life, so be sure to stock up on amber-hued construction paper to finish your squirrels perfectly. Short on disposable cups? Substitute a trimmed cardboard tube for the squirrel’s torso (bonus: cardboard tubes are already brown, so no messy painting required).
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Plastic Animal Art
Opt for plastic taxidermy for a whimsical take on an otherwise antique form of decor. While adults should be the only ones to wield the sharp craft knife to cut a few animal figurines in two, kids can do all the painting and gluing to bring these unique pieces of art to life.
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Monkey Noise Makers
One thing that makes a homemade toy even better is if it makes a little music. By filling sandwiched paper plates with dried beans and affixing to a wooden craft stick, you have the basis for a DIY noisemaker that can be easily transformed into a monkey, lion, or a sneaky black cat.
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Egg Carton Goldfish
For a fun way to help little ones practice for a real pet one day, this adorable upcycled goldfish craft is perfect. If kids can help create and tend to these delicate egg carton-and-tissue paper goldfish, then they may be ready for the responsibility of the real deal one day soon.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Paper Plate Penguins
While a simple paper plate can be the basis for any number of projects, folding one into a wobbly penguin is both creative and fresh. These look especially cute in groups, so make a few to form your own arctic flock. Give each penguin unique features (and name them) to increase the creativity factor here.
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Heart Tiger Craft
Make a friendly tiger using simple heart shapes cut from sturdy construction paper or card stock. This easy paper craft offers a great opportunity to teach kids about symmetry -- they can fold the paper to trace and cut half-hearts before assembling a cheerful, friendly tiger.