Elephant Ears—African or Asian?


How can you tell an Asian elephant from an African elephant? Discover distinct differences, and similarities, between the species.


1. If you met up with an elephant, would you know whether it was an African or Asian elephant? Find out how these endangered species are alike and different. Which is bigger? How are their heads and backs shaped? What is different about the texture and shape of their trunks?

2. You might notice that the African elephant’s ears are shaped like the continent of Africa and are bigger, growing up to 6 ft (1.8 m). An Asian elephant’s ears look a bit like India and are somewhat smaller, about 5 ft (1.5 m). Elephants have a unique system of cooling off. They flap their ears to generate a breeze, but more than that the blood vessels in their ears are close to the surface so they cool off quicker than the rest of their body. No two elephants have the same blood vessel patterns in their ears, either.

3. Now that you are becoming an elephant expert, show what you know about their differences and similarities in a 3-D (bas-relief) picture. Outline the two elephant species with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils. The colors erase easily if you make a mistake! Be sure to label which elephant is which.

4. With Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, draw the elephants’ features, such as small eyes, wrinkly skin, and useful truck.

5. Color white Crayola Model Magic® with color from a black Crayola Gel Marker. Blend to mix a gray elephant-skin color. Shape one African and one Asian elephant ear. Air-dry the ears. With Crayola School Glue, connect the ears to the correct elephants. For a firm background to hold up the elephants, glue your paper on cardboard.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.


  • Study the unique characteristics of elephant skin and trunks. Become a true fan of these remarkable creatures.
  • Research numbers about an elephant’s life: amount of food and water consumed in a day, length of gestation, weight, height, and life expectancy. Compare that data to other mammals including human beings.
  • Elephants also use their ears to communicate. Try making some life-size flaps for yourself and see if you can figure out how elephants communicate. What other unique ways do elephants communicate?
  • Both the African and Asian elephant are on the endangered species list. Find out why their populations are decreasing and what measures are being taken to protect them.
  • Elephants play an important part in the mythology and folklore of both Asia and Africa. Read some original stories.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Erasable Colored Pencils
  • Gel Markers
  • Model Magic®
  • No-Run School Glue
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • paper towels
  • cardboard
  • container(s) of water



  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes


  • Students research two elephant species, Asian and African, both of which are endangered.

  • Students identify the differences and similarities between the two species.

  • Students graphically illustrate the two species in mixed media for a rich presentation.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards