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Handmade Stamps- Making and Literacy With Eric Carle's Mixed-Up Chameleon

Picture of Handmade Stamps- Making and Literacy With Eric Carle's Mixed-Up Chameleon

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.

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?”

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

Step 1: Plan out and Create Stamps

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

Making stamps by hand is simple really! Just draw the outline of your design with a fine tip sharpie on a foam sheet, cut that out with scissors, and then engrave details on the foam with a ballpoint pen.

Cut some small wood blocks and adhere the cut out foam with double sided sticky tape!

On the front side of the woodblock (opposite of the foam design), draw the stamp you just made. Make sure you line up the front and back when tracing the design so your elemakers will be able to line up their unique animal parts when they invent their new animal species!

These are great, I love them. I especially like how you've gone on to get the kids thinking about their animal creations. Superb.
gstrong211 days ago
Just a quick suggestion if you have a heat gun. You could use a slightly thicker foam sheet, and cut (very shallow) all of the lines within the stamp instead of using a ballpoint pen. Then if you heat it slightly with the heat gun and the shallow cuts will open up making very crisp lines for the interior detail. Not sure if a hair dryer would work the same (just slower), but worth a try if you don’t have a heat gun.
dkxmtkden21 days ago
hi my name is good sang du ~!
colleengraves (author)  dkxmtkden17 days ago
Howdy! Let me know if you make your own stamps!
This is such a wonderful idea! I love the way you mapped out the animals and all the project extensions. I can't wait to share this with my friend who is moving from classroom teacher to elementary librarian this year. :)
colleengraves (author)  WeTeachThemSTEM22 days ago
Thanks, Jess! It was a really fun project and my little people loved it. It's hard sometimes to get a good little maker activity! I have a Picasso art one to share soon too! :D
So true! Can't wait to see the Picasso project. :)