Elementary school age programs

A Multi-colored Menagerie

Books To Share

  • Beautiful Blackbird by Ashley Bryan.
  • Butterfly Boy by Virginia Kroll.
  • How the Animals Got their Colors by Michael Rosen.
  • Roadrunner's Dance by Rudolfo Anaya.
  • Sleeping Bunny by Emily Snowell Keller.

Books To Show or Booktalk

  • Centipede’s One Hundred Shoes by Tony Ross.
  • It’s a Hummingbird’s Life by Irene Kelly.
  • My Life of Crime by Richard Jennings.
  • Wild Birds by Joanna Ryder.

Bulletin Board

Use a die cut machine or patterns to cut out lots of animal figures in bright colors. Scatter them around the bulletin board in groupings. Add trees, water holes, etc.


Display a variety of beanie babies or other small, brightly colored stuffed animals.


Give the children brightly colored animal-shaped backpack pulls that are available from companies like Smilemakers.


Purple Cow

(By Gelett Burgess.)

I never saw a purple cow,

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I'd rather see than be one.

Coconut Grove

“Coconut Grove” by Anne Marie Linden in Under the Moon & Over the Sea: A Collection of Caribbean Poems compiled by John Agard and Grace Nichols.


Little Red Riding Hood Madlib

(By Jeanette Larson. A Madlib takes a story and removes some of the words. Players replace those words with similar parts of speech or types of words, but they provide the words before they know the story. When the substituted words are used telling the story, the results are hilarious, absurd, and silly. With a group of children, have each provide a word or two. Then read the story aloud. Don’t worry if some of children do not give the correct part of speech—it’s still funny. Try this Madlib and then create your own.)

Once upon a (noun) there was a little (animal) who was (emotion) by every one. Her (relative) gave her a little hood of (color one) (noun). Because she wore it all the time, she was called Little (repeat color one) (action verb one ) Hood.

One day her (relative) said to her, "Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood, here is a piece of (food) and a bottle of (beverage). Your grandmother is ill and (adjective), and they will do her (adjective). Don’t dawdle and don’t (verb) to (plural noun).”

Grandmother lived out in the (place) and just as Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood got near Grandmother’s home, she met a (animal one). (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood did not know what a (adjective) (noun) he was.

"(Greeting), (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood. Where are you going?.”

"To my grandmother's. I’m bringing her (food) and (beverage)."

The (repeat animal one) thought to himself, "I shall (verb) well today! I’ll get to grandmother’s house before her.” Then he said, “Enjoy your walk. Take your time and stop and (sense) the (plural noun).”

Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood saw the pretty (plural noun) and thought, “Grandmother would love a (adjective) bouquet. Meanwhile the (repeat animal one) ran to grandmother's house and (action verb) at the door.

"Who is there?"

"Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood. "

"(Action verb) the latch," called Grandmother, "and come in."

The (repeat animal one) came in and devoured her. Then he put on her (article of clothing), and waited.

Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood arrived at Grandmother’s.

She called out, "(greeting)," but Grandmother didn’t answer. So, she went to the (room) and found her grandmother with her (article of clothing) pulled over her face.

"Oh, grandmother," she said, "what big (body part) you have."

"The better to (sense) you with," was the reply.

"But, grandmother, what big (plural noun) you have," she said.

"The better to (sense) you with."

"Oh, but, grandmother, what a (size) mouth you have."

"The better to (action verb) you with."

With that the (repeat animal one) (action verb) up and swallowed Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood.

Full, the (repeat animal one) fell asleep and began to (noisy verb). Just then a (profession) was passing by and heard the noise. Being a (adjective) man, he thought he’d see if Grandmother was okay. He went inside and saw the (repeat animal one) and realized what had happened. Holding tight to the (repeat animal one), he took a pair of (noun), and cut open the (body part) of the sleeping creature.

He saw Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood and then her Grandmother, both alive and well. He got some great (plural noun) and filled the creatures (body part) with them so that he could not move. Then all three ate (food) and drank (beverage) and laughed at their good fortune.

When Little (repeat color one) (repeat action verb one) Hood returned home, she did not tell her (relative) about her adventure, but she never spoke to a stranger again!


I Went to the Animal Fair

(Music for this traditional song is available at www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/animalfair.htm and on page 65 of The Giant Book of Children’s Songs.)

I went to the animal fair,

The Birds and the Beasts were there.

The big baboon, by the light of the moon,

Was combing his auburn hair.

You should have seen the monk,

He sat on the elephant's trunk.

The elephant sneezed and fell to his knees,

And what became of the monk, the monk?

What became of the monk?

The Unicorn Song

The Rovers recorded “Unicorn Song” by Shel Silverstein, and the music and lyrics are online at http://cu.comp-unltd.com/~zelonis/unicorn.html.


Animal Wind Sock

  • Cylindrical boxes, oatmeal or other
  • Construction paper or kraft paper
  • Markers or crayons
  • Magazine pictures of animals, animal stencils or stickers
  • Colored crepe paper streamers
  • Glue
  • String
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch

wind sock


Ahead of time, use an exacto knife to cut the bottom off the oatmeal boxes. Give each child an oatmeal box. Measure construction paper or kraft paper long enough to cover the oatmeal box. Decorate the construction paper with pictures of animals. Wrap the construction paper around the cylinder and glue in place. Glue or staple crepe paper streamers onto one end of the cylinder. Punch four holes at the other end of the cylinder. Cut two 12" pieces of string and thread each string through two of the holes. Tie the two strings together in the middle of the cylinder and attach a longer string to use as a hanger.

Flamingo Stakes

  • Flamingo pattern
  • White tag board
  • Pink, red, peach crayons
  • Scissors
  • Plastic straws
  • Tape or stapler

Trace the pattern onto white tag board. Let the children cut out the shape and color it pink, red, peach, etc. Tape or staple two plastic straws for legs. Stake the flamingos in the garden or use as puppets.

Totem Pole

  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Markers
  • Masking tape or cloth tape
  • Ruler

Decorated toilet paper tubes to make a totem pole


Give each child three toilet paper tubes. Show pictures of totem poles from the Northwest. Talk about how animals are depicted on the poles. Let the kids color the tubes using markers to design their own animal totems, one on each tube (Leave a 1/4 inch edge on each end). Use the tape to connect the toilet paper tubes. Cut four slits at the bottom of the bottom tube. Cut out four “feet” from pieces of cardboard and slide the feet into the slots to create a stand. Tape in place if needed.


Recite the poem Purple Cow by Gelette Burgess. The words are included at the beginning of this program. Invite the children to suggest other animals they would prefer not to be and write their own poetry. For example, they might name an orange bull, a pink goose, a chartreuse moose, etc. For more fun, let the kids draw pictures of their imaginary animals.

Games and Activities

Pin the Tail on the Donkey

Play this traditional game or substitute other animals and pin the tail on the giraffe, pin the trunk on the elephant, or pin the nose on the pig.

Guest Speaker

Ask a biologist to bring unusually colored animals and insects, such as snakes, spiders, bugs, birds, chameleons, and lizards to the library to show the children. Ask the guest to explain why animals are certain colors and how the colors protect or help the animal.


Purple Cows

Make “purple cow” smoothies by pouring grape juice into a blender. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Toss in a few ice cubes. Blend and pour into a glass.

Animal Crackers

Serve animal crackers. If desired, provide small cups of icing in a variety of colors and plastic spreaders. Small spoons used for ice cream sampling work well. Let the children decorate their animal crackers before eating them.

Audio Recordings

  • "Purple Elephant" on Making Faces by Rick Scott.
  • Wild About Animals by Sharon, Lois and Bram.

Web Sites

Enchanted Learning Animal Coloring/Info Pages

National Geographic

National Wildlife Federation


Texas Reading Club 2004 Programming Manual / Color Your World...Read!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011