Saturday, 30 July 2016

366 Books in 366 Days: Elmer The Recycled Elephant

During my search for simple, diverse books for little ones, Elmer by David McKee was recommended to me. We are familiar with the character from a small set of board books we own but, I confess I had not read the full Elmer story for many years. So last week I decided to dig out my brother’s Bumper Elmer Collection and read it to the Mini Reviewers.


Elmer The Recycled Elephant!
We found Elmer to be a fantastic book to explore the concept of diversity together. The story itself is about a brightly coloured patchwork elephant, who loves a good joke. He thinks the other elephants find him funny because he is different, so in an attempt to blend in with all the other “elephant-coloured” elephants, he paints himself with berry juice. Elmer soon realises that being different may actually be a good thing. When the rain washes away his disguise and his true colours are revealed, the other elephants reassure him that they love him just the way he is. Declaring the day “Elmer Day”, they plan to paint themselves multicoloured once a year in his honour.

This really is a classic children’s book, which has truly stood the test of time. Filled with humour and colourful illustrations, the book is very appealing to young children. Elmer himself is such a memorable and lovable character but most importantly the book imparts the vital message - just be yourself!

Elmer The Recycled Elephant!


A photo posted by Kate (@kate.eccles) on

Inspired by a craft tutorial for “Elmer Lanterns” on “Sun Hats and Wellie Boots”, we have made our own recycled Elmers. They were extremely simple to make and have been a huge hit with the children.

For each elephant we used an empty plastic milk carton; lots of small squares of colourful tissue paper (mostly old packaging); two googly eyes; PVA glue; two small pieces of cardboard; and a hot glue gun.

To make each Elmer I started by cutting the milk carton. I just cut it straight across as I wanted it to be as easy as possible for the children to hold to decorate it. It is possible to cut legs and even a tail shape into the carton (see the original tutorial). I then cut the handle slightly shorter to make the trunk.

Next the children set to work covering their carton in watered down PVA glue using old paint brushes. They stuck the small squares of colourful paper all over their cartons. Then they applied more of the glue mixture over the tissue paper. This got fairly messy but nothing a baby wipe or two couldn’t solve!

We decided that our elephants needed ears, so I cut ear shapes out of thin cardboard, the children then decorated these with more tissue paper.

We left everything to dry for a few hours before attaching the googly eyes and ears to the plastic carton using the hot glue gun. (I had wanted to use PVA glue for this but it wasn’t adhesive enough).

We were delighted with our finished Elmers.
What do you think?


Trash 2 Treasure


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20 comments:

  1. These are so cute Kate! Fab idea! x

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    1. Thanks Kim, one for when Bookbairn is a bit bigger!

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  2. I think these are so effective. Milk bottles are great for cutting and crafting, we made sail boats out of ours recently. I'm loving your Elmer craft. I've seen it before but had quite forgotten. It would make a great activity hour craft for us here on the farm and I think I have the book in our bookshelves too.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #Trash2Treasure

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    1. Definitely a nice simple idea for a group activity. Thank you for hosting :)

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  3. Such a clever craft, I adore Elmer, always been one of my favourites to read with the girls, think it is all the colours that attract me to him. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithme

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    1. Thanks for hosting. Elmer is very adorable, perfect for the young and the grown ups too!

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  4. I love these milk carton Elmers :o)

    Our Elmer crafts blogpost is the most viewed post of all time although we didn't make milk carton Elmers.

    #reazwithme

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    1. I'll have to have a little look Catherine :)

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  5. I love the way you incorporate an activity associated with the book, such a fun way to learn and explore X

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    1. I do like having activities to run alongside our stories. Helps the my little ones remember the books we share.

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  6. Great craft idea to go with the book. Thanks for sharing.
    #readwithme

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    1. Glad you like it Suz,I love having activities that compliment the stories :)

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  7. Elmer is such a lovely book! It's definitely one of the classics. Your crafts look fabulous too.

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  8. Ah, I love Elmer! Great craft idea, looks really effective x

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    1. Thank you! Can't beat a bit of Elmer :)

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  9. Great activity for this classic story, they look really effective too!
    #readwithme

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    1. I was really pleased how well they turned out! So simple too :)

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  10. They are very cute and colourful. What a great idea. Brilliant for fine motor skills. We missed out on Elmer. I have no idea why. #Trash2Treasure

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    1. I was amazed how well my 2 year old coped with sticking on the paper. The best bit was you really don't have to be neat with it!

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