Elmer the Elephant Activities

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Elmer the patchwork elephant looks different than his friends. Through stories and colorful pictures that depict everyday elephant life, Elmer the elephant teaches us about diversity and differences. Elmer teaches us about acceptance, friendship, and empathy. Check out the Elmer the Elephant activity below that builds a baseline for these important skills, but also helps kids with fine motor skills, visual perceptual skills, and visual motor skills.

If you love the Elmer books as much as we do, then you will adore this Elmer the Elephant activity. We LOVE Elmer the Elephant…and all of the Elmer books. Every time we go to the library, we are sure to check the shelf for a new Elmer book that we may have missed. This week’s book activity was so much fun to do with the kids, because it involved one of our favorite books (ever) and a great visual perception activity. Add this book activity to your list of crafts based on children’s books that build skills through reading.

Elmer the Elephant Activity

This fine motor craft is a powerful one because it not only builds essential visual perceptual, visual motor, and fine motor skills, but it teaches as well. This Elmer the elephant activity can be used to illustrate differences, empathy, and friendship. Here are more books that teach empathy and friendship that can be used in therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

They loved creating and building our very own Elmer craft. Elmer’s colors made for a great way to help kids build fine motor skills and visual motor skills, too. I loved throwing in the scissor work portion of the activity and working on a few important skills. My youngest daughter worked on her color identification and sorting.  The colors in Elmer’s patchwork skin are perfect for Toddlers to practice naming colors.  Little Guy was loving the puzzle-building portion of our activity.  The lines were a great way to work on a few visual perceptual skills needed for handwriting.  

Elmer the elephant activity that uses the Elmer children's book as a guide and activity to help kids understand acceptance, differences, and diversity while building fine motor skills.

Elmer the Patchwork Elephant Activity

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If you haven’t read Elmer by David McKee, this is definitely a book you need to check out.  Elmer is a patchwork elephant with many colors.  He sticks out from the crowd of gray elephants. By exploring and interacting with his community of elephants, Elmer and the other elephants learn to accept and value his unique characteristics. Elmer is not only a colorful patchwork elephant. He is funny, smart, caring, and an individual. The book teaches us to accept differences because those differences are what make us who we are.

Elmer teaches us about diversity. He teaches us about identity and tolerance. We all have different colors, shapes, interests, abilities, talents, and ideas. Those differences are what make us special. Let’s see those differences, accept them, and celebrate them!

We made our own patchwork elephant with lots of colors and had a great time building and creating while talking about color names.  This was such a great activity for both Little Guy and Baby Girl.

Try this Elmer the Elephant activity to teach children skills like scissor use and fine motor development with a wonderful children's book.


We started with Foam Sheets in lots of different colors.  You might have seen our color sorting scissor activity post where we practiced our scissor skills.  These squares came in handy for this Elmer activity.

Create an Elmer the Elephant activity using foam pieces to teach children about empathy and acceptance of differences in others while building fine motor and visual motor skills.

 I found a picture frame at the Dollar Store that has an acrylic front, instead of glass.  This is a great writing surface using a white board marker.  I drew an outline of Elmer with the marker.  We had a little bowl of water and started sticking the foam squares onto the surface to build our Elmer.  When the foam pieces are dunked into water, they stick really well to the picture frame surface.  We did a version of this way back when our blog began with our rainbow building activity.

Fine motor activity for the book, Elmer the Elephant.

Visual Perception Activity for Kids

There were fingers everywhere, adding patchwork squares!  Little Guy and I quizzed Baby Girl on her colors as we worked.  It was a fun puzzle to get the squares fitting into the outline.  What a great way to work on visual perceptual skills, fine motor precision, dexterity, and line awareness!

Visual perceptual skills in kids are necessary for so many things…from self-care to fine motor skills, to gross motor skills…all parts of a child’s development require visual perception.  There are many pieces to the giant term of “visual perception”.  This Elmer building activity works on quite a few of these areas:

Visual Discrimination is determining differences in color, form, size, shape…Finding different sized squares to fit into the outline of our Elmer, discriminating the different colors, and shapes are a great way to work on this area. 

Visual Closure is the ability to fill in parts of a form in the mind’s eye to determine shape or a whole object.  Filling in the missing parts of our Elmer works on this area.

Visual Spatial Relations is organizing the body in relation to objects or spatial awareness.  This is an important part of handwriting.  Spacing those pieces amongst the others and in relation to the lines is one way to work on this skill.

Visual Figure Ground is the ability to locate objects within a cluttered area (think “I Spy”).  Finding a red square among the pile of foam pieces is one fun way to work on this area of visual perception.

Use this fine motor activity with the book Elmer the Elephant to help kids learn abstract concepts while building visual perception.

  Little Guy was really into this activity.  He loved lining up the squares to make our Elmer.

Elmer the Elephant puzzle that kids can do to build skills in occupational therapy sessions or in the classroom or home.

We loved how our Elmer turned out!  We’ll be using our frame again, soon.  I can think of so many fun ways to learn and play with this dollar store frame and a marker!

Elmer the Elephant book and Elmer activity for kids

More Elmer the Elephant Activities

Elmer the elephant activities for kids based on the children's book, Elmer the Elephant


Check out some of these Elmer the Elephant activities for kids. They are powerful ways to build awareness, acceptance, and friendship through the book and activity.

Elmer the Elephant activity with facepaint

Use face paint to celebrate friendship with a face painting party based on the Elmer the Elephant book.

Elmer the elephant craft

Make an Elmer craft using puppets to celebrate differences, diversity, and uniqueness in a great lesson for kids, while building fine motor skills.

Create an Elmer craft using stamp painting.

Create an Elmer the patchwork elephant craft using paint to make a paint stamped elephant craft. What a great way to build fine motor skills!

Elmer the elephant preschool craft

Kids can trace their bodies with large pieces of paper and then fill the space with colorful paper squares to celebrate uniqueness in this Elmer the Elephant preschool activity.

Teach Acceptance, Differences, and Diversity

Want to take complex and abstract concepts like empathy, acceptance, uniqueness, and diversity to the next level with kids? This digital, E-BOOK, Exploring Books Through Play: 50 Activities Based on Books About Friendship, Acceptance and Empathy is filled with hands-on activities rooted in interactive, hands-on, sensory play that focus on creating a well-rounded early childhood education supporting growth in literacy, mathematics, science, emotional and social development, artistic expression, sensory exploration, gross motor development and fine motor skills.

Kids can explore books while building specific skills in therapy sessions, as part of home programs, or in the home. is an amazing resource for anyone helping kids learn about acceptance, empathy, compassion, and friendship.

In this book, you’ll find therapist-approved resources, activities, crafts, projects, and play ideas based on 10 popular children’s books. Each book covered contains activities designed to develop fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory exploration, handwriting, and more. Help kids understand complex topics of social/emotional skills, empathy, compassion, and friendship through books and hands-on play.

Click here to get the book and add children’s books based on social emotional learning to your therapy practice, home activities, or classroom.

Exploring books through play is a guide to using children's books in therapy and while building developmental skills.

More books to teach social emotional skills

Check out our other posts in the Preschool Book Club Series for activities based on favorite books:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20 years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

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Elmer the Elephant activities