Handmade Stamps and Eric Carle’s Mixed Up Chameleon – Making and Literacy

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Feeling Mixed-Up

As an elementary librarian, I’m always looking for ways that books can inspire making.  I love the artwork of Eric Carle and I thought it would be really fun to have students invent their own animal based on the book, The Mixed-Up Chameleon.  My initial idea was to make an animal in the same way that Eric Carle makes his art, by painting paper and then cutting out animal shapes, and collaging them together. However, without a table top cutter, I knew this would be a lot of prep on my part.

Making and Picture Books

Then I met Nora Peters during SXSWedu. We had coffee and talked about all of our favorite picture books and how each unique book could hold a spark for creativity.  When Nora was at the Millvalle Community Library, she created projects for picture books and included instructions inside the front cover of library books. (Read more about this here!)

As we were talking about our favorite activities and books, I told her about my dilemma with wanting to invent animals with cut out shapes, and Nora said, “Why don’t you just make stamps?”

So over spring break, I debated buying a table top cutter so I could mass produce stamps, but finally settled down and created these stamps by hand.

My 8 YO gave me the idea to draw the animal and then subsequent animal parts on one piece of paper.

Then I just drew my design with a fine tip sharpie on a foam sheet, cut with scissors, and engraved designs with a ballpoint pen.

Aaron taught me how to use a table saw to cut my wood blocks, then I was stuck trying to figure out the best way to adhere the foam sheet to each block. Hot glue would be lumpy…..but what if I just used double sided sticky tape?  Would it hold up?

After a week of being used with kindergarten, first, and second, I’m happy to tell you that my stamps survived!

If you decide to make your own stamps, make sure you line up the front and back so you can trace the design on top and then your elemakers will be able to line up their unique animal parts to invent their new animal species.

I love my homemade stamps so much! And now I want to own a Silhouette Cameo cutter or Cricut Maker so I can mass produce more stamps, or try my original idea and have students paint paper and draw shapes. Then I can cut their animal shapes with one of these rad plotter machines.

During my lesson this week, Lucie Delabruere came to visit and has a great snapshot of the entire lesson! She caught me in my “natural habitat” so to speak! Read her snapshot of being in my library and her other “March is for Making” posts here.  Ironically, I told Lucie I wasn’t focusing on making this week, but rather on literacy and research…. it’s funny how it all really does tie together into a seamless learning experience.

My favorite part of this activity was that after inventing an animal, students researched animal habitats and had to decide where their mixed-up animal would live. I’d love to go further with this lesson and have them write explanations of why they chose that habitat for their new animal species.

Check Out All the Student Work!

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