Animals of the African Savannah: DIY Giraffe

Kids can’t resist this googly-eyed giraffe made of a few boxes, paper mache’, and toilet paper rolls that will soon stand tall in our classroom’s unit on the African savannah. This group project includes a variety of art activities that compliment the various age and ability levels of my homeschoolers.  Thus, 5-year-old Khloe can paint the ears with washable tempera paint, while 11-year-old Lauren attaches the legs and neck with strips of of newspaper. Here’s how we did it:

To kick start our project, I painted the boxes the night before and let them dry overnight.
To kick start our project, I painted the boxes the night before and let them dry overnight.

I used two boxes for each giraffe: a a large one for the body and a small one for its head. I don’t have exact dimensions. You’ll have to use your own judgement.

20150817_114450The girls put on old tee shirts to protect their clothes and we all went to work.

We used toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for the neck and legs. The girls attached two paper towel rolls with painter’s tape and covered the entire piece with newspaper strips to build the neck legs and for the legs, they attached three toilet paper rolls and covered them with newspaper strips.


A word on working with paper mache: It is essential that you allow the paste to dry completely before adding another medium such as glue or paint on top of the paper mache. Otherwise, your project could rot on the inside and even grow mold. Unless you allow each part to dry thoroughly, you could eventually wind up with a rotted mess.


INGREDIENTS & RECIPE: Mix flour and water to get the consistency that you are most comfortable with. Use a fork to smooth out the lumps.


Wrap each leg and and the neck with torn strips of newspaper and paste.  Be careful to not over saturate the paper rolls or they will collapse and turn to mush. If any part becomes too wet, lay strips of dry newspaper over the saturated section and let the paste hold each strip in place. I suggest wrapping 2-3 layers. Smooth each strip and fill in any air pockets. Let the paper mache dry overnight.


The next morning, I painted the neck and legs and left them to dry overnight.

Next, the girls used brown construction paper to cut the spots. They glued spots all over the giraffe’s body, neck, and legs.

To assemble the neck and legs to the body, I took a few extra steps to ensure durability.


I positioned each limb and stuck four small craft sticks strategically around. I wrapped painter’s tape around the sticks and neck and then covered with newspaper strips.


I used large googly-eyes  at   the end of the box.


I cut two ears from Styrofoam plates and plates and let Khloe and London paint them. I glued the ears on the underside of the smaller box.


Lauren went over our giraffe with a final coat of paint and thus, our giraffes were born.