How to Make Zoo Animals Out of Recycled Materials

Things You'll Need

  • Coffee can
  • Construction paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Googly eyes
  • Paper towel roll
  • Orange finger paint

Teaching children about the importance of recycling is essential for the future well-being of the planet. One unique way to reuse and teach children about recycling is by repurposing household items into craft projects. Whether you're taking a trip to the zoo with your kids or you're incorporating a zoo-themed unit in your classroom, transforming everyday items that might otherwise be trashed into zoo animal crafts is a fun and educational activity.

Elephant Coffee Can

Remove the lid and clean out an empty coffee can.

Lay a piece of gray construction paper on a flat surface. Place the coffee can on the edge of the paper and tape the edge to the can. Roll the can to the opposite edge of the paper so that the can is covered with paper.

Tape the opposite edge of the paper to the can. Cut off any excess paper that may be sticking up from the bottom or top of the can. Stand the coffee can up so that the coffee can is facing upward.

Fold a piece of gray construction paper in half. Draw a semi-circle on the paper; the opened edge of the shape should be touching the fold on the paper.

Cut around the semi-circle. Open up the cut-out shape and cut down the folded line between the two shapes.

Make a small fold on the straight edge of each of the shapes. Apply glue to the back of each of the folds. Press the glued sides of the folds onto either side of the can, creating ears for your elephant.

Cut a thin rectangular piece of gray construction paper. Roll the paper around a pencil to give it a curled effect. Make a small fold in the edge of the rectangle. Apply glue to the back of the fold and press the glued side of the fold onto the center of the can, creating a trunk.

Glue two googly eyes onto the center of the can, just above the trunk.

Paper Towel Roll Giraffe

Place a piece of yellow construction paper on a flat surface. Place an empty paper towel roll on the edge of the paper and attach the paper to the tube with tape.

Roll the paper towel roll until it it is covered with paper. Cut off the excess paper and tape the end of the paper to the roll.

Cut out the profile of a giraffe's head from yellow construction paper. Draw a smile and an eye on either side of the cut out.

Make a slight fold in the edge of the giraffe's head. Apply glue to the back of the folded edge. Press the glued folded edge to the side of the top of the paper towel tube.

Cut out an oval with a pointed top from yellow construction paper. Tape the shape to the inside of the tube so that the pointed end is sticking up. This creates an ear for your giraffe.

Dip your forefinger into orange finger paint. Press fingerprints onto the surface of the paper towel tube and the head, creating spots for the giraffe.


  • Supervise young children as they use scissors.


About the Author

Lily Mae began freelance writing in 2008. She is a certified elementary and literacy educator who has been working in education since 2003. Mae is also an avid gardener, decorator and craft maker. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and a Master of Science in literacy education from Long Island University.