Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Menagerie of Animal Friends!

I love containers of any kind to use with kids.  They always seem to love opening and closing the containers.  It seems to make anything inside SOOO much more interesting :)  When you turn that container into some kind of creature, it builds the anticipation and excitement exponentially!  I had seen a wonderful alligator container on pinterest awhile ago.  I went to the website and found a really fun game of "snap" to go with it.  If you get a chance, you should check out the website:

I had my eye on the alligator for a long time and decided to try and make my own version of the alligator to go along with vowel sorts.  My son is in first grade and is working on short and long vowel sounds.  I also work with some students who are working on the same thing.  I finally decided to figure out a way to make word sorts really fun!

I would love to introduce "Abby the Alligator" and "Jake the Snake"!!!

 Both animals are made out of Cascade detergent containers.  You can really use any container that snaps open and closed (i.e., Some formula containers, Magic Eraser containers, etc.).  I prefer the Cascade containers, because it actually looks like the animals have teeth when you open the top. 

Here is how I made these creatures:
-  Lay the container on the foam and cut out a straight amount of foam.
-  Hot glue the foam to the container.
-  Hot glue your label to the front (mine are found in my product:, but you can use anything you want)
-  For "Abby the Alligator", you just need to cut out two different sized ovals in two different colors.  Hot glue the smaller oval on top of the larger oval and glue the googly eye to the top.  Make two sets of eyes and hot glue to the back of the container.

-  For "Jake the Snake", you can cut out a y shaped tongue and hot glue it to the front of the container.  I found that foam works best, I started with construction paper and Jake lost quite a few tongues :)
-  I cut out two different sized and colored circles out of foam and hot glued them to the top of the container.  Hot glue the googly eyes to the smaller circle.
-  Cut out a tail shape out of two pieces of foam.  I cut mine in a vaguely s shape. 

- Attach the two front ends of the tail to the back of the container.  They should be glued flat to the back.
- The next part is the tricky part.  This is where I burned myself just a little bit...  Glue both sides of the beginning of the tail, closest to the container.  After you glue about 3 inches up on both sides, push the sides of the tail together and curve your hands.  You will kind of curve your hands in a "C" shape.  Keep your hands in this shape until the glue dries and the tail feels stiff.  This will make the snake shape.
-  Do this again toward the end of the tail in the opposite direction.  This will make the "S" shape.
-  Cut out free form blobs (such a technical term, I know!) of two different colors.  Place them strategically (really, wherever they fit) on the snake.

Now you are the proud owner of "Abby the Alligator" and "Jake the Snake"!  I can't tell you how many hours of fun that these characters have brought the children in my life :)  They loved them so much that we now have "Ethan the Eel".
He has stripes instead of spots.
And, my daughter's favorite, the "Monster"!!! 
You can use all these animal and monster friends for counting objects, "eating" beginning sounds, "eating" different letters of the alphabet.  The list is endless!  I will post some more specific ideas later.  Just wanted to get these guys out there, in case anyone wanted to get their "hot glue" on over winter break! 
In case you are teaching long and short vowel after the winter break, you might want to check out:
You can use Abby and Jake with these sorts, or print out the mats that are included.  Either way, there is a ton of sorting to be done :)
Happy break!!!!


  1. This is really cool! Great options for differentiating! Love it! Already made the Cascade animals and am busily dirtying dishes so I can use more dishwasher detergent! Thanks for the GREAT ideas.

  2. Thanks for following along with my ideas! I love sharing with other teachers and parents :) Hope your kids enjoy them!

  3. SOOOOO cute! Love your blog and your ideas!!


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