Elmer, by David McKee

Elmer is not your typical elephant, he sticks out from the rest. This is a story that teaches children to accept and value others for their unique characteristics and to take pride in being yourself.


  • Many colors of tissue paper cut into one inch squares
  • Template of Elmer the Elephant to use with art
  • Seek & Find Alphabet page
  • Camouflage animal cards


  • Absolutely (entirely or extremely)
  • Camouflage (to be able to hide in plain sight)
  • Enormous (very, very large)
  • Unique (original, one of a kind)

Before Reading the Story

Ask the children if they know what the word camouflage means. Show them the pictures of the camouflaged animals one at a time and see if they can find the animal. After you have shown them the cards, show the children the cover of the book. Ask them if they can tell what kind of animal the story is about today. Introduce the book.

Science/Scientific Knowledge; expands knowledge of and abilities to observe, describe, and discuss the natural world, materials, living things, and natural processes.

Reading the Story

When you get to the page where  Elmer was looking for the bush covered with elephant-colored barriers , ask the children what do you think Elmer is going to do?  Why do you think Elmer is doing this?

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; demonstrates progress in abilities to retell and dictate stories from books and experiences; to act out stories in dramatic play; and to predict what will happen next in a story.

After Reading the Story

In the story, Elmer is part of a herd of elephants. Tell the children that your class is kind of like a herd. You are all part of the same group and each contribute something special to the herd/group. Talk about how each member of the group brings something special. Go around the circle and say something special about each child (Lee has a pretty singing voice, Michael always has a smile, Lolly shares when she plays, and Danny is good at saying please and thank you). Ask the children if they can think of anything else special about themselves that they would like to share (My Mom says I’m beautiful, I know how to make burritos in the microwave).


Add any books that you might have about animals that camouflage or elephants.

Literacy/Book Knowledge & Appreciation; shows growing interest in reading-related activities, such as asking to have a favorite book read; choosing to look at books; drawing pictures based on stories; asking to take a book home; going to the library; and engaging in pretend-reading with other children.

Music and Movement

Elmer is part of a herd of elephants.  Try moving around the room or on the way to the playground as a herd (sticking close together).

Teach the children the Elephants Have Wrinkles song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJonGSbUWXE

Put on the Youtube song, Colors, by Learning Station. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZJFzUzulXA

Teach the children the song, One Elephant Went Out to PLay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQf6yWEScB8

1 Elephant went out to Play,

Went out to play

Upon a spider’s web one day.

He had such enormous fun,

He called for another elephant to come… “Oh, ELEPHANT!”

Two elephants…

Three elephants…

Four elephants…

Five elephants went out to play

Upon a spider’s web one day.

The web went creak, the web went crack.

And all of the elephants went KERSPLAT!


Put out your one-inch cubes. Make cards showing the numbers 1-10. The child picks up a card and must stack that many cubes. Encourage them to not to put two of the same color cubes side by side.

Mathematics/Number & Operations; begins to use one-to-one correspondence in counting objects and matching groups of objects.


Cut out simple elephant shapes for the easel. Put out red, yellow, and blue paint. The children can experiment mixing colors.

Science/Scientific Skills & Methods; begins to use senses and a variety of tools and simple measuring devices to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.

Cut out many 1-inch squares from colored tissue paper. Put school glue into cups, one cup per child along with a small paintbrush. Give each child an Elephant template. Show the children how to paint the glue onto the paper and then put a piece of tissue paper on top of the glue. Encourage the children to fill the entire elephant shape with tissue paper squares. When it is dry, cut out the elephant shapes and hang them on the wall.

Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; progresses in abilities to use writing, drawing, and art tools, including pencils, markers, chalk, paint brushes, and various types of technology.

Sand and Water

Add any item you have that is multicolored and the children can scoop or pour. I like to use the water beads that swell up. These are fun for the children to scoop and put into bowls.

Library and Writing

Put your capital magnet letters into a bowl and give each child an elephant alphabet card. Have the children take turns picking a letter, naming it, and then finding it on their page to color. Encourage them to color like a patchwork where no two same colors are touching.

Literacy?Alphabet Knowledge; identifies at least 10 letters of the alphabet, especially those in their own name. AND Physical Health & Development/Fine Motor Skills; progresses in abilities to use writing, drawing, and art tools, including pencils, markers, chalk, paint brushes, and various types of technology.

Dramatic Play

If you have any patchwork blankets or clothing, make note of it to the children. Encourage the children to speak kindly to one another.

Social & Emotional Development/Social Relationships; shows progress in developing friendships with peers. AND Social & Emotional Development/Cooperation; shows increasing abilities to use compromise and discussion in working, playing, and resolving conflicts with peers.

Math and Manipulatives

Put out Duplos or Legos. Show the children the cover of the Elmer story and say, “Elmer was made of patchwork, can anyone guess what this means”? If the children do not know, explain that patchwork means to be made of many colors and that no two of the same color can touch. Challenge the children to make a patchwork using the Duplos or Legos. Leave the book in the center to give the children guidance.

Creative Arts/Art; gains ability in using different art media and materials in a variety of ways for creative expression and representation. AND Approaches to Learning/Engagement & Persistence; demonstrates increasing ability to set goals and develop follow through on plans.

Outdoor Play

Play a color game today. Call out colors and actions to go along with. If you are wearing red, jump up and down, if you are wearing blue run to the tree and back.

Language Development/Listening & Understanding; shows progress in understanding and following simple and multiple-step directions.


Tell the children that elephants are really, really big. Another word for this is ‘Enormous’. Ask the children to name enormous objects as they go off to the next activity. Have them answer you in a full sentence. A __________ is enormous.

Language Development/Speaking & Communicating; progresses in clarity of pronunciation and towards speaking in sentences of increasing length and grammatical complexity.


Enlarge and use for tissue paper art

About Kerry CI am an Early Childhood Educator who has seen daily the value of shared book readings with my preschoolers. I use the book theme in my centers and can daily touch upon a variety of Early Childhood Domains which makes assessing the children easy and individualized.