Elmer the Elephant Lantern - made from a Milk Bottle!

These Elmer Lanterns brighten up any space with their colourful design & make great night lights for children's bedrooms. Made from a clean plastic milk bottle they're also frugal & fun for kids to make.

We've been fans of 'Elmer the Elephant' books by David McKee for awhile, & love Elmer's quirky fun-loving character. His bold patchwork design lends itself to so many projects & this lantern craft is ideal for celebrating all the wonderful colours of Elmer.

To make a basic elephant shape we cut a milk bottle in half & used the top section for the body.
I then cut 2cm from the handle so this was slightly shorter then the rest of the bottle. This will be the elephant's trunk! To create the legs I cut an arch shape on opposite sides of the bottle (as in the pic below), & a smaller one just under the handle. 

To complete Elmer we gave him a little tail by cutting 2 small triangular shapes out of the back section.

Then it was time to decorate! We used a selection of coloured tissue paper squares, PVA glue/school glue  & a paintbrush. Minnie generously applied the glue with the paintbrush & then added her choice of colours. She made sure every part of the bottle was covered with the tissue paper & enjoyed discovering the many colours she could make by overlapping different papers.

She finished by painting a layer of PVA glue all over the elephant  & left it to dry in the sunshine. If you're doing this project indoors I'd leave the elephants to stand overnight just to make sure they were completely dry.

Once dry you can add a few details. We added googly eyes & a few sequins. As you can see this was a popular activity & it didn't take long before another elephant was created.

And then more joined the herd! The neat thing about this project is that plastic milk bottles of any size can be used, we discovered that a 1 pint milk bottle creates a very cute baby elephant.

Using a variety of different sized bottles offers children an opportunity to sequence the elephants & arrange them in order of size. It also offers lots of scope for imaginative play, & a chance to think about family groups, & habitat.

To make our Elmer Lanterns we added a led tealight to the centre of each elephant & secured with blu tack/sticky tac beneath the lid of the bottle.

Once the tealight is switched on Elmer's rainbow colours glow beautifully, and when the tealight is switched off Elmer becomes a neat toy to play with again. 

Wouldn't these make a great addition to a play den, or as a table decoration for an outdoor evening meal with the family. But perhaps they'd work best as a reading light for someone curled up enjoying an Elmer classic or two.

And just in case you were wondering what we did with the bottom sections of all the milk bottles, we turned them into DIY planters!