Alligators are much more than large-toothed reptiles that stalk marshy wetlands. According to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park's website, alligators are armor-bodied animals and the official state reptile of Florida. Whether your child has a school assignment on these ferocious-looking creatures or just enjoys learning about animals, shoebox projects provide a creative way to teach her all about alligators.
Help your child to create a traditional shoebox diorama that features an alligator and its habitat. Alligators live in freshwater areas such as rivers, swamps and lakes. Take the lid off of an old shoebox and turn it on its side. Your child can draw a marshy type of background on the inside of the box and then paint it. Add plants by gluing on crumpled green tissue paper to the bottom of the box and put an alligator front and center. Your child can use a small-sized plastic toy alligator or make his own by modeling one out of clay.
Why buy brand-new art materials when you can reuse household objects and save the planet at the same time? To build an alligator out of materials you have in your house, start with an old shoebox, attaching the lid to the bottom with masking tape. Cover the box with green construction paper. Create a face by gluing a Styrofoam cone -- reused from a faux flower arrangement -- or cardboard triangles -- from the side of a cereal or cracker box -- to the front, short end of the box. Add two googly eyes to the top and white fabric scrap triangles -- as teeth -- to the triangle part. Finish the craft by adding green paper squares to the bottom corners of the box as arms and legs.
Alligators -- according to the experts at the Smithsonian -- are typically between 8.2 and 11.2 feet. Your child can use shoeboxes to make her own life-sized alligator. Paint eight or nine shoeboxes green. Line them up in a row and glue them together. Use long, thin green paper triangles to make the alligator's pointed snout and create eyes with white and black paint. Add another thin green paper triangle to the end of the boxes as a tail.
Inspire creative play with a shoebox alligator mask project. Choose the biggest shoebox that you have on hand, and turn it over so that the bottom is facing up. Have your child draw an alligator mask on the flat bottom of the box or trace a template. If you don't want to buy a stencil, print a free downloadable version from a website such as Masketeers. Help your young artist cut out the mask. Paint the alligator mask or color it with markers. When it is completely dry, punch one hole on each side of the mask and tie it to your child's head with ribbon. Watch as your child turns into an imaginative animal character for a day of fun-filled pretend play.