PROJECT: Rainforest Creature Marionettes

Topic: Animal Defence Mechanisms

4th Grade, Art & Literacy Curriculum Set





In this project, students look at different defense mechanisms animals have developed to protect themselves, specifically focusing on rainforest creatures. They brainstorm the ideal creature to live in the rainforest, then create marionette puppets of their creatures; using cardboard tubes as their base and coating the surface with layered tissue paper. 

© info: Doodles Academy presents both public domain artworks and works that are protected by copyright in their videos and lessons. The latter are used in accordance with fair use principle, as the images are only being used for educational purposes. If you are the copyright holder of the work of art used for and do not agree that the use of your image is a fair use, please contact us by email.





Pencil, markers/colored pencils (or other coloring tool), cardstock, *paper tubes, scissors, **masking tape, ½-1” glue brushes, glue containers, liquid glue, Thick string or cord (each student will need 5 pieces), beads (wide enough to fit over the string), scissors, sticks (such as popsicle sticks, 2 per student), hole puncher,  tissue paper in a variety of colors, 

(optional, see note under synopsis, lesson 5): hot glue gun, hot glue sticks

(optional, lesson 2)***aprox 22″ x 28″ or 28″ x 44″ sheet of board

*While these can be purchased new, you can also use donated paper towel or toilet paper tubes. 

**it is helpful to also have a roll of duct-tape on hand in case there are some difficult-to-stick body parts.

*** Feel free to use any paper you have around: bulletin board paper, large railroad board, large pieces of cardboard, or even regular sized paper pieced together. The size given in the materials list is approximate based on commonly produced sizes, but it should be large enough to allow for a background set for the puppets–think large poster-sized. 

Suggestion: have bins for each table or section that contain the materials and simply add the new materials needed for each lesson. Assign a student artist the job of passing materials out after the ‘CFU’ part of the lesson. Baby wipes are handy to clean hands after the oil pastel lesson.




-Lesson 1:

 Brainstorm Packet, 1 per student + extra for fast workers 

-Lesson 5: 

Artist Statement, 1 per student:

Step-by-step instructions (with pictures), project or hand out to groups: 


Text Set:

Text Sets support all learners, especially those with background knowledge or vocabulary deficits, by building up these domains through a volume of reading on Science, Social Studies, and other high interest topics. You can learn more about building and using text sets here. 

The texts listed below have been pulled from,, El Education modules, and resources referenced in text sets from based on their connection to the topics addressed in this lesson.  Texts listed are at a variety of reading levels and could be read aloud or printed/provided for students to read, depending on the needs of the readers in your classroom. These texts are not integrated into the lessons; they are an optional extension, and listed here as a reference for educators interested in building their student’s background knowledge around the project’s core topic. 

ISBN/Website  Title  Author Type
0545670187 101 Hidden Animals By Melvin & Gilda Berger Non-fiction/book
1623540429 Animals That Make Me Say Ouch! By Dawn Cusick Non-fiction/book
1429670347 Rainforest Animal Adaptation by Lisa J. Amstutz  Non-fiction/book
0547416970 What Do You Do When SomethingWants To Eat You? By Steve Jenkins Non-fiction/book
1452134294 Hidden Dangers: Seek and Find 13 ofthe World’s Deadliest Animals By Lola M Schaefer Non-fiction/book The Venom Doctor scholastic Non-fiction/article Toxic Bird & Moon Comic Don’t touch! London museum opens exhibit of venomous creatures By Agence France-Presse, adapted by Newsela staff Non-fiction/article Vipers – and other snakes – can strike faster than the blink of an eye By Los Angeles Times, adapted by Newsela staff Non-fiction/article How Living Things Avoid Getting Eaten! Article Set by the American Museum of Natural History Non-fiction/articles Animals of the Tropical Rainforest Readworks Non-fiction/articles


Tier 2 (academic vocabulary) words appear in many different contexts and are often subtle or precise ways to say relatively simple things, for example “relative” or “accumulate”. We’ve determined several rich Tier 2 vocabulary used in this lesson by analyzing the language used in the project’s video lessons through Achieve the Core’s ‘Academic Word Finder’. Vocabulary instruction is critical for students as they develop reading, writing, and oral language skills.  We recommend supporting students’ understanding of these words by using them in conversation, reinforcing them in discussion, and encouraging student use of new words, More information is available here.  

Access the full file, with definitions, here. 

  • Create
  • Mechanism
  • Evolved
  • Conceal
  • Camouflage
  • Environment
  • Invisible
  • Fierce
  • Pattern
  • Avoid
  • Threat
  • Texture
  • Toxic


Tier 3 words are vocabulary words that address specific content in the lessons, or are related to the Visual Arts. Tier 3 words are central to building knowledge and conceptual understanding within the various academic domains should be used and reinforced throughout the teaching of these lessons.

  • Predator
  • Prey
  • Brainstorm
  • Camouflage 
  • Texture



Level: Upper Academy





SL.4.1b Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions and carry out assigned roles.

 (Lessons 1-4: discussing the inspiration image, Lessons 1-4: student artwork presentations)

SL.4.1c Pose and respond to specific questions to clarify or follow up on information, and make comments that contribute to the discussion and link to the remarks of others. 

SL.4.4 Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

SL.4.5 Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes. 

(Lessons 1-4: student artwork presentations).


W.4.1d Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented. 

(Lesson 5: writing an artist statement)  



  • Science, Social Studies, Language Arts
Connect thematically to any unit focused on the rainforest or animal defenses 
  • Music
Could connect to the Burmese puppet operas (discussed during the inspiration image)
  • Dramatics
Connect to a unit on puppetry. 
  • Social Studies
Emphasize the different types of puppets discussed in the Inspiration Images and find more examples of marionette puppetry around the world, compare and contrast. 


Core Content are common topics used all across America to address Social Studies and Science standards. This project supports the following core content in science:


• Animals

• Adaptation

• Habitats

EL Education

EL Education ( ) is an open-source literacy curriculum. 

This art project supports the ideas and learning in the following EL Education Modules:

Module 2b

Animal Defense Mechanisms

Students build proficiency in writing an informative piece, examining the defense mechanisms of one specific animal about which they build expertise. Students also build proficiency in writing a narrative piece about this animal. They build background knowledge on general animal defenses through close readings of several informational texts and 



Anchor Standard 1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

VA:Cr1.1.4a: Brainstorm multiple approaches to a creative art or design problem.  (Lesson 1, creating a brainstorm) 

Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

VA:Cr2.3.4a: Document, describe, and represent regional constructed environments. (Lesson 2-5, early finishers creating a rainforest set) 




Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work

VA:Re.7.1.4a: Compare responses to a work of art before and after working in similar media. (Lesson 1-4, discussing the inspiration image) 

Anchor Standard 8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work

VA:Re8.1.4a: Interpret art by referring to contextual information and analyzing relevant subject matter, characteristics of form, and use of media.  (Lesson 1-4, discussing the inspiration image) 

Anchor Standard 9: Apply criteria to evaluate artistic work.

VA:Re9.1.4a: Apply one set of criteria to evaluate more than one work of art. (Lessons 1-4: student artwork presentations).


Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

VA:Cn11.1.4a: Through observation, infer information about time, place, and culture in which a work of art was created. (Lessons 1-4: discussing the inspiration image.)


shape/form, color, texture


pattern, proportion/scale, balance

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