LEARNING:   Students look at different defense mechanisms animals have developed to protect themselves, specifically focusing on rainforest creatures.

CREATING:  Student artists 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. 

CONNECTING: This project is part of our ‘Art & Literacy Curriculum’. You are welcome to use it independently, and it is easily adaptable to use across multiple grades. However, it was designed to support the topic  ‘Animal Defence Mechanisms’, which is often found in 4th grade ELA curricula. It can also support the topic ‘Rainforest’, which is often found in 5th grade ELA curricula.  Text sets and vocab are pulled for 4th and 5th grade students.

Specifically, this project focuses on the rainforest through its animal examples. It builds on the learning 4th grade students are doing around different animal defence mechanisms and asks them to demonstrate their knowledge through their design of a fictional animal. 

Scope & Sequence:

Lesson 1:  SW learn about animal defenses,then brainstorm  fictional animals that are ideally suited to live in the rainforest.

Lesson 2: SW  learn about animals who move (e.g., run), fight, or alter their body in order to defend themselves, then create the body and head of their puppet.

Lesson 3: SW learn about animals who use color and texture to defend themselves,  then will begin adding layers of tissue paper to their puppet.

Lesson 4: SW have a second day to add tissue paper to their puppet, with a focus on texture.

Lesson 5: SW put together their marionette puppet.

(you can preview the first lesson in a project without enrolling by clicking on ‘lesson 1’ above).


The above will take you to a supply list that assumes a class size of 30. Adjust according to your needs. 
The above will take you to a list of core texts, as well as a text set. More information is included in the link. 
List of Tier 2 & 3 vocabulary

Art Elements:

shape/form, color, texture

Art Principles: 

Pattern, proportion/scale, balance



SL.4.1b, SL.4.1c, SL.4.4, SL.4.5 , W.4.1d   


VA:Cr1.1.4a, VA:Cr2.3.4a, VA:Re.7.1.4a, VA:Re8.1.4a, VA:Re9.1.4a, VA:Cn11.1.4a




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Navigation tip: when you first go through the project, you must hit the 'mark complete' button, at the bottom of the page, to unlock the next lesson. After 'mark complete' has been hit, you've unlocked that lesson, and you can then use the sidebar to easily click to different lessons within the project (helpful if you are working through the project with more than one class).

Why do I need to hit mark complete? Certain lessons have email triggers (such as teaching tips when there is a painting lesson), and this helps us know when to send them. It also helps us track completion rates.

Our art projects are free. To access them: 

1. Enroll in any course with your email

2. Access courses you are enrolled in through your personal 'Artroom' at the top of the page.

Terms of use: We are a non-profit, and the materials made available for download are freely available for anyone to use, adapt and share (with attribution), but no one is permitted to sell either the original program, an adaptation of it, or lesson plans that reproduce any part of it.

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