Age Range: 5 - 11

Elmer the colourful patchwork elephant has been a nursery favourite since this first book was published in 1989. The subtle message is that it is OK to be different, and combined with the vibrant colour and cheeky humour of the main character, this large format edition is a celebration of its continued popularity.

Book Author: David McKee

See More Books from this author

Teaching Ideas and Resources:


  • Elmer is part of a herd of elephants. Can you think of other collective nouns for different animals?
  • Look at the first illustration. Can you describe how the elephants are similar / different?
  • Look at the illustrations in the book and think of speech / thought bubbles for the elephants and other animals.
  • Make alliterative sentences involving types of animals, e.g. an extraordinarily excited elephant, a long lazy lion.
  • Try some role play activities from Elmer's point of view... How does he feel about being different? Why did he decide to paint himself grey with berry juice?
  • Try role play activities from the other elephants' point of view... How do they feel about Elmer? How did they feel when we turned grey and then surprised them all. How do they decide how to decorate themselves on Elmer Day?
  • Look at the decorated elephants on Elmer Day. Which is your favourite? Can you explain why? Can you describe one of the elephants to a friend who has to guess which one you are thinking of?
  • Make an invitation to the other elephants, asking them to celebrate Elmer Day.
  • There are lots of adverbs in the story, e.g. absolutely, quietly, usually. Can you find any more? Can you describe what adverbs are? Can you make some sentences which include adverbs?


  • Can you count the berries on the bush? Can you count the coloured patches on Elmer? Can you count how many elephants are in the herd? Can you count how many other animals are in the jungle?
  • Look at the shapes and patterns on the decorated elephants. Do any of them have repeating patterns, symmetry, or tessellation?


  • Carry out some research to find out about different types of elephants. Could you present your findings to an audience (in the form of a presentation or written report)?


  • Open the PNG images (see Resources below)?and load them in a paint program. Ask children to paint them using warm colours, cold colours, a mixture of colours or different shades of the same colour!


  • Decorate an elephant for Elmer Day using unusual shapes, patterns and colours?(see Resources below).
  • Look at different photos of elephants and try to draw your own?(see Resources below).
  • How many different colours can you think of? Explore mixing of colours to make new ones.


  • Discuss why Elmer didn't want to be different. Why is it OK to be different from other people?
  • How can we celebrate our differences like the elephants do on Elmer Day?
  • An old elephant says to Elmer "It didn't take you long to show your true colours." Discuss what this expression means.
  • Use the 'Elephant Expressions' sheet?(see Resources below)?to investigate different emotions and how these are expressed.


Elephant Colouring Page

Elephant Colouring Page

Print and colour this cute elephant!

Giraffe Image

Giraffe Image

Colour this giraffe picture on screen using painting software.


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Julie Hockenhull

Lovely resources to use with EYFs children. Thank you

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Hi, I'd like to download the lovely image of Elmer you have for an art class with 29 4 year olds. However it isn't downloading or displaying properly - only in black as a web page. Can you please fix this?
Thanks very much,

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Mark Warner

Hi Lorna,

Thanks for your message. The file downloads OK on our machine. Are you able to right-click on the 'Download' button above and then choose the 'Save' option to download it?


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