Eric Carle Art in Pre-Kindergarten

Sahar's Beautiful Butterfly

Sahar’s Beautiful Butterfly

I have to say that I LOVE Eric Carle’s beautiful art!  The colors and the textures he creates on tissue paper is magical and the whole process is easy and fun for any age.

Pre-K is learning about insects and I thought making Eric Carle inspired insects from scratch would be a fabulous experience for the little ones.

We started looking at Eric Carle books with insect themes (The Grouchy ladybug, The Lonely Firefly, etc.) and we talked about the colors and the way the artist made the pictures. Next, while the students were drawing their insects on practice paper (this keeps them busy), I worked with two kids at a time on the tissue paper. Have a variety of pre-mixed interesting colors (stick to three or four colors max!) and brushes and rollers ready. Let the kids decide which color tissue paper they want to paint and let them explore and have fun!

Rolling with textured rollers

Rolling with textured rollers

They should start by rolling paint then they can splatter paint and finger paint using all the different colors they want. Just make sure it doesn’t get messy and all just one big blob of a color. Hang them up to dry ( your class will look lovely!) and once they have dried cut they large pieces into 9×12 sheets.


Because in Pre-K kids are still working on their fine motor skills and their cutting is still at an early stage I usually have pre-cut thin cardboard templates of different sized wings, bodies and heads to help the kids. Remember that tissue paper is thin and the templates will help them cut out their shapes. It would be good at this point to show them if they fold a piece of tissue paper in half then they will have two wings after they cut. Remind them to draw on the side that isn’t painted if possible.

Thin cardboard templates of insect wings, bodies and heads

Thin cardboard templates for insect wings, bodies and heads

On a large piece of white paper have your kids place their pieces without gluing yet. Let them play around and ‘plan’ their work–a great skill to start learning from now. Once they are happy with their insect, they can glue the parts down and add details such as eyes, antennas, stripes, dots, feet, etc..

Using the templates

Using the templates

The result is stunning and so beautiful that it will seem Eric Carle did the insects himself!

Abdulla's Flying Insect

Abdulla’s Flying Insect

Angelique's Firefly

Angelique’s Firefly

Sana's Caterpillar

Sana’s Caterpillar


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20 thoughts on “Eric Carle Art in Pre-Kindergarten

  1. I am usually opposed to the idea of templates (because the artwork can come out looking “cookie cutter”), but I like really this application! It still allows for students to make lots of artistic choices. It’s nice, too, that you didn’t concentrate on one of his books, but on many. They turned out so beautiful! I love this unit, great job!

    • I totally agree! I am anti templates and this is probably the only time you’ll see me use them. Tissue paper is a very hard for little hands to cut and the templates worked out quite well. Some kids didn’t even want to use them which was great. They knew it was there in case they wanted them. Kinder and older grades would not have the templates for any Eric Carle inspired art work!

  2. I love the creative freedom found in your lessons! I will start my first year of teaching this Aug and I am having such a hard time finding lessons for k-2 that don’t consist of just following directions and ending up with artwork that all looks alike. Your projects are so inspiring and go way beyond producing work, I can’t wait to try them out this next year!

  3. I love this idea so much. They look beautiful. I will have to try to find some tissue paper and give this a try! What’s amazing is how translucent they look – as though they were suncatchers. But they’re glued onto plain white paper, right?

    • Thank you. Yes they are glued on white paper. They were hanging on my fishing lines in my classroom with the light behind them, that’s why they look translucent–maybe a good way to display them!

  4. Pingback: Eric Carle Insects « Dresses 'n Messes

  5. Tried this lesson with my Pre-K art class – They loved making them and they turned out beautifully! Great idea!!

    • There are many amazing ways to teach kids the wonderful art of Eric Carle. This lesson was one of many I do. The class was learning about insects in their class so The Hungry Catetpillar was quite popular. At the time, I was thinking of a lesson to help them explore paint so I decided to join the two ideas together.

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  7. i am taking a class in school right now called Art for the Elementary teacher and the lesson for this unit is on collage..i was stumbling around online looking for inspiration for a project idea and found your site! i love eric carle, always have! he even has some great tips on his site for working with tissue and creating pictures! thanks for the tutorial, im excited to see what i can create!

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