Art Projects for Kids Drawing Animals

by Ryn Gargulinski
Shapes can become dogs, cats and elephants when used as prompts.

Shapes can become dogs, cats and elephants when used as prompts.

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Telling a kid to draw an animal might get you a blank stare or, worse yet, that awful phrase that includes, "I can't." Kids can be amazed at how easily they can draw an animal if you give them guidelines and a prompt. The prompt for art projects drawing animals can be as simple as a circle mixed with a copious dose of imagination.

Traditional Shapes

Starting with traditional shapes is one of the most basic ways to get kids to start drawing animals. Draw a rectangle, circle or triangle in the middle of the page and let the games begin. Since animals contain basic shapes, have the kids transform the shape into whatever animal first comes to mind. The rectangle, for example, becomes a dog with four lines out the bottom as legs and an oval head with triangle ears. The circle becomes a fat cat with a tail, smaller circular head, triangle ears, and a set of whiskers. The triangle is a bird with a small circle and triangle on top for his head and his beak.

Specific Shapes

Once children master the traditional shape idea, throw them a challenge by giving them specific shapes they must turn into animals. Try drawing a heart in the middle of the page and see what they come up with. Turned sideways, the heart becomes one of an elephant's ears or the main body of a fish. Left with the point angled downward, it becomes the head of a mouse. A spiral in the middle of the page can turn into a pig's tail, a sweet snake, or a goofy dog's eyeball.


Prompt kids to draw animals by giving them a background scene of a specific environment and telling them to fill it with animals that would live there. A desert gets snakes, coyotes, scorpions and quail. A beach scene is home to seals, whales, snails and fish. Put a forest scene on their minds and wait for the bears, squirrels, raccoons and birds. Even an urban scene has its share of animals, with alley cats, rats, stray dogs and pigeons. Add shapes to the background to give kids a jump-start if necessary.


Not all animals have to be realistic -- nor do they have to be real. A creative way to stimulate kids' imagination is by drawing a mythical, fantastical or monstrous beast. Start with shapes once again, but clump several close together and see where it goes. Tell the children to include all their favorite aspects to create the scariest, silliest, smartest or most striking animal they can envision. Big teeth and buggy eyes get extra credit.

About the Author

Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible." She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.

Photo Credits

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