After welcoming in the cooler days of autumn with our hand dyed paper leaf wreath, we have a bit of a bug for autumn colours and textures in our toddler art and crafting at the moment. As well as the falling leaves we have been talking about hibernation and woodland creatures, and watching the many squirrels from our window. when talking about the animals we decided on a quick hand print activity to help describe the characteristic the spiky spines of a hedgehog and the bushy tail of the squirrel.
In a moment of silliness, I have managed to delete all of the ‘in progress’ pictures of this activity taking place, in readiness for a family visit, but they were mostly my little boy grinning with paint all over his hands, and the finished pictures are pretty self-explanatory.
You will need:
- Coloured paper or card in light brown/buff (hedgehog) and orange/brown (squirrel)
- White card (one A4 sheet per animal)
- Paint in a selection of suitable colours (brown, white, black, orange and red all work well)
- Sellotape or glue stick
- Black marker pen
- Scissors, craft knife or cutting machine (for use by adult)
Download the Hedgehog and Squirrel papercut files. The download includes both a PDF file of each creature that can be printed directly onto paper and cut using scissors or a craft knife, and SVGs for anyone who uses a cutting machine.
Note on SVG files:
If you are using the SVG files with a cutting machine, please note that the lines for the leg definition, nose and ear markings are intended to be draw lines, for machines with a draw capability. Please make sure that these show as draw lines before cutting, and convert them if they do not. If your machine does not have a drawing function the lines can be deleted and added after cutting, using a marker pen.
Take your range of child-friendly paints and arrange lines of colour in parallel lines on a painting-dedicated plate or palette.
If this activity is intended for a toddler, it may be best to roughly sketch out with pencil the approximate shape of the Squirrel’s tail and hedgehog’s body, lightly in pencil, on the white card.
You are ready!
Making The Woodland Creatures
Draw the paintbrush through the paint in the same direction as the lines of paint, to create streaks of colour. Brush a thin coat of pant over the hand from the base of the palm to the fingertips. Older children may wish to do this themselves, but younger children may benefit from an adult’s helping hand. Press the hand firmly but gently to the paper, and remove. Use the pictures of the completed hedgehog and squirrel below to get an idea of the direction that the hands should be placed to best mimic the direction of the spines or furry tail.
Replace in another position and print again. Try to press the hand to the paper two to three times per paint-coating, to prevent over-application of paint (which causes splodging), but also to give depth and crispness to the prints, and allow for variety in colour and shade.
Try to pick up a variety of paint colour combinations as you apply the paint, and you can observe with your child how the colours mix and change.
The colours of the paint used are those of autumn, so you can also bring into the activity conversation about the changing colours of autumn, and older children may enjoy joining in discussions about camouflage and hibernation.
Once the handprints have been completed, set aside to dry. Once dried, cut around the handprints and attach to the body cut-outs using either a glue stick or some sellotape on the back. If you are lucky enough to live near a woodland with oak trees, an acorn can be attached to the squirrels hands with a hot glue gun, safely out of the way of children.