Preschoolers can practice their scissors skills with this fun cotton ball sheep craft. They can even help the sheep “grow” new wool so that they can shear it again!
(Disclosure: Books and Giggles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.)
If you’re teaching a farm unit, reading farm books, or setting up a farm animals theme in your classroom, you’re surely want to include sheep.
This cotton ball sheep is more than just a craft. It’s also an activity and a toy.
I took care to design this so that it’s a little sturdier than your typical preschool craft. That way your kids won’t accidentally cut off the sheep’s legs or head while they’re shearing it.
It also means that kids can play with this sheep craft, re-enacting their favorite stories and farm situations.
A Little Background on Sheep Shearing
Of course, for this craft to make sense to your littles, you’ll want to first teach them about sheep. You can explain how sheep’s hair grows long and needs to be cut, and that we turn that into all kinds of lovely woolen things.
Farmer Brown Shears His Sheep (affiliate link) by Teri Sloat would be a super cute way to begin such a lesson. In the story, Farmer Brown shears his sheep, which makes them cold. They follow their wool around as it is cleaned, carded, and turned into yarn. Finally, the farmer knits them sweaters so that they won’t be cold anymore. It’s a humorous and engaging story that would make a fun read-aloud before making this craft.
Your kids might also love this video about a little boy in Australia who helps his family shear the sheep on their farm.
(By the way, did you see in the news recently the story of the lost sheep in Australia who had grown a huge fleece. After he was found and sheared, the wool weighed over 75 pounds!)
Preschool Sheep Craft
Once your kids have some background, it’s crafting time!
- Thin cardboard, such as from a cereal box
- Scissors, for you and for the kids
- Mini craft sticks – 4 per sheep
- Waxed paper
- Acrylic paint, black and white
- Glue – either hot glue or white glue (see instructions)
- Cotton balls – aprox. 8 large ones per sheep
- Googly eyes
Do be aware that black acrylic paint will stain clothing. Unfortunately, washable paint really isn’t ideal because it’s hard to get a nice opaque black with it.
Sheep Craft Instructions
For very young children, you may want to make each child a sheep craft ahead of time and just let the kids shear them. If you’re making this without children then you can speed up the process by using hot glue (assuming you’re proficient with using it already!)
I suggest you use school glue if children are doing the gluing, unless you have an out-of-reach station where you could apply hot glue for them safely.
Here are the step-by-step instructions:
- Cut out one oval and two sheep head shapes per sheep using this template or your own. Separate the heads into pairs. (No, we’re not making two-headed sheep. You’ll be doubling up the heads so that they’re too thick for the kids to accidentally cut them).
- Pick out the larger of each pair of heads (you probably didn’t cut them all identically) and lay them on a sheet of waxed paper along with all the craft sticks. Paint them black. You don’t need to paint the top of the sticks because they will be covered by the body. Let dry.
- Have a pile of cotton balls at hand, and then coat the cardboard oval with glue. Next, press a single layer of cotton balls onto the cardboard. Let dry.
- Use white glue to bond a painted and unpainted head together into a 2-layered single head. Cover them with a sheet of waxed paper and then weight them down as they dry so that the two layers stay pressed together.
- Apply glue to the top of the legs.
Then, press the cardboard body onto the legs.
Flip the whole body over and let dry:
- Next, glue the googly eyes onto the head. Let dry.
- Finally, glue the head onto a cotton ball at the edge of the body.
How to “Shear” Your Sheep
Now for the super fun part!
Once everything is good and dry, show your littles how they can “shear” their sheep with their scissors.
Snip, snip, snip!
I think this sheep might be a little cold!
No worries, though – his hair will grow back. You can help it along with some glue…
Use your fingers to pull off most of the cotton balls that the scissors missed. Then drizzle glue on top:
Then just press your trimmed “wool” back onto the sheep.
You can add glue and put on a second layer if you like. Just be sure to let it dry well before you try to trim it again.
Finally, if you want something simpler, you might like this ribbon shearing craft. It’s a super cute alternative.
More Farm Theme Resources
You might also like the Farm theme Personalized Emergent Readers available in my store. Teachers and students really love these little books. You type in student names on one page, and they magically fill in on every page of the story!
I also have a whole post full of classroom Farm Activities – so be sure to check that out too.