ALLIGATOR PIE – Shape, Colour, Handprints

Students learn the Dennis Lee poem, Alligator Pie, and then make a painting of an alligator using lines, colour and handprints. 

Required Time

40 Minutes

Grade Level

Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 1


Language Arts
Visual Arts


colour contrast print shape


Crayola Washable Glitter Project Paint - 6 Count Crayola Variety Brush Set - 5 Count Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Washable No-Run School Glue Small Shells Googly Eyes

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ALLIGATOR PIE – Shape, Colour, Handprints - Step One

Step One

  1. Paint your hand.
  2. Cover all the finger tips and the palm of your hand.
ALLIGATOR PIE – Shape, Colour, Handprints - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Think of the shape of an alligator.
  2. Use the shape of your hands to make an alligator.
  3. Press your painted hand onto the paper.
  4. Make sure the fingers touch the paper too.
  5. What part of the alligator will this be?
ALLIGATOR PIE – Shape, Colour, Handprints - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use more handprints to make the rest of the body, the head and the tail.
  2. Add more details with contrasting colours.
  3. Add googly eyes and shells if you like. 
ALLIGATOR PIE – Shape, Colour, Handprints - Step Four

Step Four

  1. View your painting with fresh eyes.
  2. Think about the alligator in Alligator Pie.
  3. What is your alligator thinking?

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • create relief prints with their hands;
  • work independently and self-regulate;
  • create personal responses to the poem Alligator Pie;
  • share their ideas with peers; 
  • demonstrate a sense of accomplishment.


Have students:

  • explore other ways to respond to the poem using a variety of materials, for example, create:
    - 3-dimensional sculptures
    - mixed-media collages
    - alligator habitats that match the poem


  1. Prior to this lesson read and discuss the poem Alligator Pie, by Dennis Lee with your students.
  2. Have them learn the poem by repeating it, moving to it and repeating it back to you.
  3. Gather, and make available, books about alligators, for example, Zack's Alligator Goes to School, by Shirley Mozelle, and James Watts; There's An Alligator Under My Bed, by Mercer Mayer; Alligators: Amazing Photos & Fun Facts Book About Alligators, by Rita Terry; Alligator Pie Classic Edition, by Dennis Lee, and‎ Frank Newfeld; Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), by Julie Falatko,‎ and Tim J. Miller; and If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, Don't, by Elise Parsley.
  4. Download images of alligators from the Internet, for example,
    Sleeping Alligator
    Alligator on Pond
    Chinese Alligator
    Albino Alligator
  5. Set up a printmaking/painting centre with paper, paintbrushes, washable glitter paint, glue, googly eyes and shells. 


  1. Revisit the poem Alligator Pie with your students.
  2. Discuss and review the variety of things that the poet is willing to give up for tasty alligator dishes.
  3. View the images of alligators and place your hand over parts of its body to show how hand prints might be used to make a picture of an alligator.
  4. Introduce the centre.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Use your own ideas to make an alligator with prints of your hand.
  2. Share your ideas with others.
  3. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Ensure that students understand the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I:
    - use my own ideas to make my alligator
    - use handprints to make my alligator
    - add details to my picture
    - explain how I made my picture
  3. Demonstrate how to make a handprint.
  4. Guide students through the steps outlined in the lesson plan.
  5. Observe students as they work.
  6. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Gather students to view and discuss their art. Ask students to share:
    What they learned about alligators.
    How they made their alligator pictures.
    - What they learned about making handprints.
    - What they like best about their pictures.
  2. Display all the pictures in the classroom.
  3. Encourage students to view the pictures and notice how they are the same, and how they are different.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting.
  2. Observe students as they discuss their pictures – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the picture, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download – AlligatorPie_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have grade 1 students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download – AlligatorPie_self-assessment.pdf)