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By Sally Grayearly years practitioner and writer

These activities will introduce children to different animal skin patterns, which can also develop observation and movement skills as they learn about camouflage and habitats

Giraffe © Matthias Clamer/

Activities in this article:

  1. Pattern dancing
  2. Find the animals
  3. Safe and secure

1. Pattern dancing

Guess the animal from its pattern and move like it

Creative Development

Responding to Experiences, Expressing and Communicating Ideas

Development matters: capture experiences and responses with music, dance, paint and other materials or words (30-50 months); make comparisons and create new connections (40-60+ months).

Early Learning Goal: express and communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings by using a widening range of materials, suitable tools, imaginative and role play, movement, designing and making, and a variety of songs and musical instruments.

Group size: up to six children at a time.

What you need

Cards made by cutting out and laminating different skin patterns, such as those on the ‘Animal Patterns’ poster ; ribbon sticks made by attaching pieces of animal patterned fabric (or ribbons in animal colours) to dowelling rods or wooden pegs.

What to do

Show children the pattern cards. Discuss which animals the patterns might belong to. Invite children to match the ribbon sticks you have made to the patterns (and the animals they represent). Think about the way each of the animals might move – plodding, slithering, stalking, running, stretching and so on.

In a clear space, invite the children to move like animals. Hold up a pattern card and encourage the children to move like the animal it represents.

Let the children enjoy dancing with the ribbon sticks. Invite them to choose an animal ribbon stick and twirl it as they move in the manner of their chosen animal.


Focus on two or three patterns and develop movements that go with them.

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