Family Fun #4: Animals!

I’m not sure why summer makes me think of animals. It may be because in Michigan, most forms of animal life seem to hunker down for the winter and rejoice when summer appears. Or maybe I just want an excuse to show you the great “animal hands” art below. Either way, for this week, animals it is.

  1. Isn’t this amazing? This is the work of Italian artist Guido Daniele. You can get some good close-ups of his work here or go to his website for a huge collection. You need to choose either hand painting or body painting, then slide over to choose either advertising or art. Be forewarned, much of the body-painting is fascinating as art but is not kid-friendly.

But the truth is, you can get what you need from this single graphic. Of course you won’t be able to duplicate this artist’s work—and why should you, if you are to be artists yourselves? But grab some face paints and see what kind of animal your hand can become. Of if that is just too intimidating, do some old-fashioned hand print art. I’ll bet you can go way beyond the traditional Thanksgiving turkey!

2. If you could be any animal, what would you be? Draw a picture or write a story from the perspective of that animal. Imagine what it would be like to feel water on your skin all day long, or to dig in the ground, to look down at the world from the height of a giraffe or up from the perspective of a snake. This is a great opportunity for flexible thinking and imagination.

3. Make an animal cut-up-cake (one of the great delights of my childhood) or an animal salad. But don’t stop there. Remember, the idea is to come up with your own ideas. There are amazing works of art created entirely from food. So look around and think about what kinds of animals you could make—and eat! Here’s one that looks like it might want to eat you.

4. Move like an animal. Play animal charades or have races dedicated to hopping, slithering, or chicken-walking. Think about how you can have water-animal races in your local pool or pond. What would a shark race look like? Or a jellyfish race?

5. Build a scale model or drawing of an animal. If you have a parking lot or other large surface nearby, perhaps you’d like to try your hand at drawing a full size version of one of the world’s largest animals in chalk, or creating a huge paper sculpture. Even a 1/10 size version of blue whale would be really impressive! Or if that feels like too much, you might try recreating the world’s tallest dog or largest insect.

Bonus Activity: If you haven’t yet tried inventorying the animal life around you, that would be a great activity for this week.

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