How to make a Peek-a-Boo Pangolin & “We’re Off to Find a Unicorn”

peek-a-boo pangolin with "We're Off to Find a Unicorn" book

A Enlightening Book & Peek-a-Boo Pangolin

After reading Eloise White’s “We’re Off to Find a Unicorn” we decided to learn more about an animal we saw in the book that neither of us had ever heard of…a Pangolin. As a homeschooling family this organic learning that comes from finding a new interest in a book is one of the things I love most. After researching Pangolin’s we decided to try out a new art technique. I love how the colorful layers turned out and I’m excited to walk you through it, so let’s get started…

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Summary of “We’re Off to Find a Unicorn”

“We’re Off to Find a Unicorn” by Eloise White and wonderfully illustrated by Cory Reid is an adorable book about a diverse multi-generational family getting together in search of a mystical, magical unicorn. They search far and wide across all different landscapes. Each time they discover other animals, including a pangolin which was an animal my daughter and I had never heard of…very cool! As it turns out, they selected all of the animals in the story with the great intention of bringing awareness to endangered animals. 😮

we're off to find a unicorn book opened to page showing pangolin on a tree branch with our peek-a-boo pangolin art

Initially my daughter was a bit disappointed that the characters never found the unicorn; even though she did enjoy finding the unicorn herself hidden throughout the story. But after discussing the book with a close family friend who suggested to her that perhaps only she sees the unicorn because she’s a strong believer in them, she took a new perspective on the book! Not sure if that was the intention (or we’re totally overthinking it lol) but definitely food for thought. 😉

A quick read with repetitive text reminiscent of “going on a bear hunt”, I believe this one is great for littles who will enjoy learning about new animals & pointing to the hidden unicorn. But also great for older kids too as a conversation starter about endangered animals. Thank you to @OwletPress for gifting us this book for review & including us in your blog tour!

Have You Ever Heard of a Pangolin?

We were intrigued to find out more about pangolins. As a homeschooling family, books often spark a light towards learning something new. Because of this book my daughter learned more about what it means to be an endangered animal and completed an entire research project on pangolins! If you’re also interested in finding out more we found the following websites very informative…,,, &

How We Made our Peek-a-Boo Pangolin…

close up of peek-a-boo pangolin

We tend to keep the activities as simple as possible around here. We’re not interested in complicated or costly. We are also all about fostering independence. My daughter thought it was very cool that they can curl up in a ball to protect themselves. Therefore we decided to create our own pangolins that can also curl up in a ball & for fun play peek-a-boo too!

A while back I had saved @_simply_bea_’s beautiful turtle art using cotton rounds knowing we just had to try it one day. Well, that one day came when we learned about pangolins!

close up of completed peek-a-boo pangolin

First things first, we luckily have tons of cardboard hanging around as its the holiday season lol. So I did my best to copy the shape of a pangolin when it is curled up. After a few tweaks I cut out my drawing & altered it some more to get the body and tail to turn into a ball when close together.

There’s a Free Printable Template!

Next I decided that was way too complicated for anyone else to have to go through lol, so I created a Free Printable Template! You’re welcome. 😉

I even tested the template out by printing it and giving it to my daughter to create her pangolin. She easily cut out the pangolin body and tail from the paper, traced it onto the cardboard with pencil (permanent marker is easier to see but when we wet the cotton rounds the ink came through a bit 🙁 so I suggest a pencil), and cut the cardboard. Next she placed the paper template on top of the cardboard pangolin matching it up & used a pencil to poke a hole where the dot is on the template of both the tail and the body. Lastly she connected the two with a brad fastener and made sure her pangolin was able to curl up, which it did!

What does an Artichoke have to do with a Pangolin?

child hands holding glue bottle over cotton rounds on cardboard pangolin

To further investigate the pattern of the pangolin’s scales and to get a hands on feel, which we love, we bought an artichoke. It was a great model for us to hold and look at to help guide which direction the scales would go in to get that layered look. We decided to begin placing the cotton rounds at the tail and layered them towards the head. No glue just yet, we wanted to see how it looked first. Once satisfied with the look we began gluing the cotton rounds, layer by layer. After the layers were stuck to the cardboard came the best part… watercolor painting!

hand squeezing yellow watercolor onto cotton rounds.

We love watercolor painting around here. We prepared several bowls of water + powdered tempera paint with an excess of water. You could also use actual watercolor paints or food color and water but we really like the color options we had in powdered tempera paint. My daughter chose pink, yellow & orange. Fun fact, while we were watercoloring our pangolins I asked, “Where do you suppose these pangolins could live if they are these colors?” to which she thought for a moment and cleverly said here on our blog, since they would match our brand colors, lol.

peek-a-boo pangolins opened

Using droppers is fun & great fine motor work too. I decided to color each “scale” aka cotton round a different color, while my daughter decided to use one color at a time making sure it was spread throughout and intentionally connected the scales. The end results were quite different and I have to say I definitely like hers better. It has more of a natural camouflage look, kinda like tie dye, which makes sense for a pangolin.

Wait?!? Am I Supposed To Be Making One Too?

I highly recommend getting hands on and doing art projects with your child. If you’d rather not, thats okay too, but please do not correct anything they do. If you want the art to look a certain way – make your own.

peek-a-boo pangolins rolled up in a ball

Especially if your child is little, its okay if it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined. Maybe its what they imagined. Also, its a process. They are learning. They will learn more through trial and error than if you correct them or do it for them. All they will learn if you “help” is that they didn’t do a good enough job on their own or they can’t do it; not exactly the message you want to give your kid. Am I right?!?

Believe me, I know it can be really challenging to let them make “mistakes”. Try doing the project along side them. It will allow you to focus on your own work, give them appropriate modeling of how to use the materials, and show them that you like art too! A lot of what I talk about in “What about the Sensory Mess?” applies to Art projects as well, you might wanna check it out! I love how each art has its own identity. I would suggest making a Peek-a-Boo Pangolin if you’re looking for a meaningful and enjoyable art activity to connect with your child.

Materials We Used

  1. “We’re Off to Find a Unicorn” book (from the library or buy one here)
  2. Cardboard
  3. Printable template (found here)
  4. Pencil
  5. Scissors
  6. Brad fastener
  7. Cotton rounds
  8. Glue
  9. Watercolor paint
  10. Dropper
  11. Tray
    Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

How to Make a Peek-a-boo Pangolin?

  1. Print out the free “Peek-a-boo Pangolin” Template (found in our FREE Printables Library)
  2. Cut out the two shapes from the template.
  3. Lay them on the cardboard and trace them with a pencil.
  4. Cut out the two shapes from the cardboard.
  5. Place the template on top of the cardboard shapes to match and poke a hole with a pencil where the dot is on each of the two pieces.
  6. Place the tail on top of the body and connect with a brad fastener through the holes.
  7. Lay the cardboard pangolin on a tray.
  8. Use cotton rounds to make layered scales beginning with the tail and working your way towards the head.
  9. Do not put cotton rounds covering the pangolin’s face.
  10. Use scissors to cut the cotton rounds if needed.
  11. Once happy with the layout add glue layer by layer sticking the cotton rounds back onto the cardboard permanently now.
  12. Use a dropper to squirt watercolor onto the scales to create a colorful pangolin.
  13. Add an eye, nose and mouth to his face.
  14. Allow to dry completely before moving the tail to have him curl into a ball and play peek-a-boo! Click HERE for Free Printable copy (Email Subscribers Only)

Wait, There’s More…

Sample of “Communicating & Connecting FREE Bonus Printable.

I believe you can easily strengthen communication skills and foster independence all while playing and connecting with your child. To help you do this; I’ve created a FREE printable for each activity called, “Communicating & Connecting”.

It will give you a list of suggestions I’ve found very helpful as a Mom & as a special education teacher; to help you build lifelong skills. Please don’t feel obligated to do everything on the list (but if you do, you’re a rockstar 😉 ).

As a Thank You for subscribing; this is a special FREEBIE for our Email Subscribers Only. 🙂 Click here if you’ve already subscribed. Otherwise, Sign Up below to get the password & access to our entire FREE Printables Library today! 😉

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