pop-up paper zooI love collaborating with my three-year old, so I was thrilled when she came up with this idea for me to draw animal shapes for her to color in. We don’t have coloring books in our house (aside from a mandala coloring book suggested by Jen at Paint Cut Paste), so maybe this fed some deep seated need to color in the lines? When I drew the outline of the first animal I wasn’t sure where this was going, but N started coloring away with a clear vision in mind. She’s a true director, putting me to work on the the details while she masterminded the big picture. When she came up with an idea to make the animals stand up, we cut them out, cut small slits in the bottom of the animals and a matching slit in the opposing “stand,” and we suddenly had the makings of a zoo!


  • Card stock
  • Favorite mark-making tools: Markers, crayons, colored pencils
  • Scissors
pop-up paper zooAfter working on the bee, N worked on which way she wanted it to stand.

pop-up paper zooAnd she even made her own animal shape. I tried to pin her down (in the most open-ended way possible) on a name or type of animal, but she kept me guessing. I think it was just a shape, but you never know!

pop-up paper zoo

She colored both sides of the animals, making them truly three-dimensional. She’s just started to draw with representational marks, and I love seeing how faces and other recognizable objects emerge through these marks.

pop-up paper zooOur zoo family!

Would you make a pop-up zoo?

After making these I thought some of you might like to have some animal templates to print out. If you do, let me know and I’ll make a PDF set that you can download.

This post is shared with It’s Playtime, World Animal Day Bloghop


    • Oh, I hadn’t thought about it that way!

  1. I’d love to make these with the 3 boys I’ve got during the day. We’re always looking for some fun ideas. Thanks.

    • Fabulous! I’m so happy to help.

  2. What wonderful animals & such a great idea! Thanks for sharing

    • Thanks for the comment, Catherine 🙂

  3. I’d LOVE a template! I’ll take whatever help I can get in this area 🙂
    Thanks so much.

    • Okay! I’ll get to work on this 🙂

    • of course, Jen. you’re a huge inspiration!!!

  4. So I did this today with my 3 and 2 year old. My 3 year old mistook my monkey for a monster, my giraffe for a dinosaur, my lion for a zebra and my squirrel for a mouse. I should have waited for your templates! Oh well, we had fun despite my lacking artistic abilities.

  5. Great idea, and templates would be nice for those of us artistically challenged. I had a vague notion of no colouring books, but everyone from daycare to friends parents print colouring pages from the internet and once the kids catch on, well it’s better than TV!

  6. I just stumbled upon your beautiful site, thank you. I share your passion for raising little ones in art rich environments. I look forward to exploring your words, work and world.
    I have just published a creative arts magazine for children with my partner and would love you to take a peek http://www.bigkidmagazine.com – we welcome your feedback and thoughts.

  7. Yes, please! A template would be fabulous!!!

  8. Yes we’d love a pdf too – a wonderful project idea. We’ll have a go with making dinosaurs, maybe we could provide that pdf!!!
    Many hands make light work after all.

  9. How fun! These are totally awesome! Glad you linked up this week and I am featuring them on Facebook 🙂 Cheers.

  10. This is so great! I love the idea.

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