Color Me Rich in Art!

Donna Campbell, Jacqueline Isadore, Penny Ferrell

To expand the theme of ‘being rich’ by using old fabrics to create something “valued”, a stuffed animal. (OWL in this case)
1. How would you say your stuffed animal is ‘rich’?
2. How would you compare it to a bought one?


One t-shirt per student brought preferably from home (could be pjs or other fabric)
Extra fabric choices for details like feathers, beak, eyes, feet
Large buttons of many color choices for eyes, min. 2 per child
Embroidery thread of many colors for sewing thread, 5 choices
Fabric glue, 1 bottle per child
Child appropriate fabric scissors for each student
Plastic “child sewing needles” or tape to create a pointed end on thread, this will have to be judged by teacher as to which is more appropriate for class safety!…my priority!!!!!


I would show the students the Quilt Trail in NC Mts. and discuss the art of beautiful scraps coming together for these quilts by showing and example of my own. In a follow up lesson we will make books that have a photo of their animal on the cover. The book will be a journal in which the students write how their life has changed already because of different events since being a baby, how their community (school) is changing throughout the year in 1st grade, how their life is becoming ‘rich’.

1. Consider that this owl will represent you, your own favorite old t-shirt, favorite colors, more or less a self-portrait!
2. Cut t-shirt sleeves and neckline off, trace owl template desired onto flat fabric with pencil or marker.
3. Choose fabric for eyes, using oval template (or draw own shape), cut out 2 matching eyes, glue in place onto owl body.
4. Choose feather fabric, cut out small shapes or one large shape for feathers, glue in place onto body.
5. Choose beak fabric, cut out triangle for the beak, glue onto owl body.
6. Choose eyes from button selection, may be matching or not.
7. Choose embroidery thread color, cut 40 inches long, demonstrate and thread needle, tie knot at end of thread. (I use colored tape on the tables to indicate 40 inches/15 inches as a cutting guide)
8. At this point, I would snip tiny holes about ½-1 inch apart for the 1st graders to sew in/out around the owl myself, so the sewing process would become grade level friendly.
9. Starting at the tip of ear, sew in/out all the way around the owl up to the other ear tip
10. Glue or, stitch eye/buttons in place
11. Stuff the owl with poly-fil, not too full (I usually have poly-fil ready to go in individual clumps.)
12. Cut another length of thread, 15 inches long, sew from tip ear across top of owl to tip of other ear; tie knots to connect at each ear.
13. Take a photo of end product to use on the cover of journal book.

Differentiation Approaches

1. All steps will be written and posted, drawings of each step provided as well.
2. Students can work in pairs, can get a few pre-cut fabric shapes if must, can help one another with each step.
3. Students can see the project in stages from photos, and view several examples of finished products to use as guides.


We will compare and contrast a bought stuffed animal to our end product artwork and discuss what we see. We will talk about the personal meaning of each as well. We will reflect upon the richness of each. We will discuss other items to add to the stuffed animal to make it more unique, more defining as a self portrait… a shoestring, ribbon, feather, name, anything small from home that they cherish.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

1. We will make our journal books by placing a photo of our stuffed animal on the cover. Instead of carrying our animal around with us through school or taking it home, we will use our animal journal to write about how we see ourselves becoming “richer” each day!
2. I think this project could be an awesome 4th to 1st grade integrated project. The 4th graders study NC and will identify with the historical value here. The 4th graders would be perfect assistants for each 1st grade student as well! They could also make their own version in their 4th grade art class.

Additional Details

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