Introduction: Spirit Animal Stickers

Description: Students will create hand-drawn spirit animal stickers to represent themselves using pencil, iPads, and vinyl cutters with Adobe software.

Subject: Social Emotional Learning (SEL), art, technology

Grade Level: 2nd-5th


  • Students will reflect on their own identity
  • Students will empathize to relate to animals
  • Students will use creativity to draw animals that share their characteristics
  • Students will communicate their ideas through words, drawings, and stickers
  • Students will create a sticker to represent themselves

Tools and Materials:

  • Pencil/pen and paper
  • iPad(s) with Adobe Ideas
  • Computer with Adobe Illustrator
  • Vinyl cutter
  • Vinyl roll
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Tweezers, transparency tape

Duration: Two one-hour periods (Lesson 1: Intro-Step 5; Lesson 2: Step 6- Step 10). If pressed for time or working with young students, this can be done in one lesson (Intro-Step 5) and the teacher can complete the sticker production (Step 6-Step 9), ending with sharing and sticking with students.

Possible Adaptations and Extensions:

  • Without a vinyl cutter- print, laminate, and tape spirit animals to create "stickers"
  • Write short stories about their spirit animals
  • Draw habitats and adaptations for spirit animals
  • Create hybrid, fictional spirit animals
  • Perform skits about spirit animals
  • Play animal charades
  • Write spirit animal quizzes

Related Resources:

  • Spirit Animals: Book 1: Wild Born by Brandon Mull (Gr. 4-7): book on Amazon

Step 1: Overview of Spirit Animal Stickers (Lesson 1)

"We are going to create stickers of animals that represent us. Different animals have different traits, like people. Some people are shy like deer, playful like monkeys, or clever like foxes. Have you ever read a book with animals as the main characters? Have you ever related to their feelings and experiences?" Cite examples (ie, Stuart Little, Trumpet of the Swan) and have students share examples. (5 minutes)

Display finished spirit animal sticker.

Step 2: Brainstorm Traits (Lesson 1)

"What are some traits, or characteristics, of yours? What are some of your interests or hobbies? What makes you special? This is a personal reflection and while you may have some traits you share with your classmates, each person's list will be unique." (5 minutes)

Model examples: caring, friendly, curious, love playing sports, love spending time with friends, dislike cold weather

Step 3: Brainstorm Animals (Lesson 1)

"Think of animals that share some of the traits and interests you listed. Try to think of at least one animal for each trait. For example, if I put 'curious,' I might say 'monkey' or 'puppy.' If I also wrote 'love climbing trees,' I might put 'monkey' again. If the same animal comes up for multiple items of your list, make note of it." (5 minutes)

Examples: playful-kitten, quiet-elephant, proud-lion, clever-fox, funny-monkey, athletic-cheetah, inquisitive-dolphin

Step 4: Sketch (Lesson 1)

"Look at your list of animals. Did any animals come up repeatedly? Is there one that you feel a strong connection to? Take a minute to look through your list and choose the animal that you think best represents you as your spirit animal." (Pause, ~2 minutes)

"Now that you've chosen your spirit animal, you will sketch it to create your sticker. Since we are using the vinyl cutter, we want to keep the animals to simple shapes and lines. You will be using your finger to draw it on the iPad next. Don't worry about details." (10 minutes)

Model sketching simple, bold lines and shapes.

Step 5: Draw Animal on IPad With Adobe Ideas (Lesson 1)

"Now we will transfer our sketches into the iPads to send to the vinyl cutter using Adobe Ideas. Use your finger and trace your animal sketch on your paper. You are training your muscle memory to do the same thing on the iPad." (10-20 minutes depending on number of students and iPads. Students who are done or waiting can practice finger drawing on a partner's back or draw a habitat for their spirit animal on paper.)

Model how to use Adobe Ideas, including sending the finished sketch the a teacher email account with student name in the subject line. Tip: Keep the line thickness set at a thicker size (>30) to make it easier to peel off and use.

Step 6: Prepare Drawing on Adobe Illustrator (Lesson 2)

Depending on the age of your students, this will likely be a teacher-led step. You can show the students how you are using the software.

"Since we emailed the animal sketch from Adobe Ideas on the iPad to me, I am going to open the file on this computer that is connected to the vinyl cutter. We have to transfer the file into the format that can be printed. We are using Adobe Illustrator." (5 minutes per student/sticker)

Walk the students through this process so they can see how the file is being transferred to make their sticker.

Step 7: Print Sticker on Vinyl Sticker (Lesson 2)

Depending on the age of your students, this will likely be a teacher-led step. You can show the students how you are using the software.

"Now that all the student sketches are formatted correctly, we can print them on the vinyl cutter. We have to feed the sheet of vinyl into the printer to prepare it. As it prints, watch how the vinyl is cut." Take predictions and observations. (5 minutes)

Step 8: Prep Sticker (Lesson 2)

Depending on the age of your students, this will likely be a teacher-led step. This step requires strong fine motor skills and visual-spatial thinking.

"We have a sheet of vinyl that has been cut to make your stickers. We need to peel off the vinyl that is around each animal to create your sticker." (5 minutes per student/sticker)

Model how to peel back the vinyl creating the negative space. Tip: Use of tweezers can be very helpful for details.

Step 9: Optional: Add Transparency Tape (recommended) (Lesson 2)

Depending on the age of your students, this will likely be a teacher-led step.

"Our last step is to put a layer of transparency tape over our stickers. This will make it easer to transfer them and stick them to surfaces so you don't lose little parts like eyes or mouths, and so larger lines like tails don't get crumpled and folded on themselves." (1 minute per student/sticker)

Step 10: Share and Stick! (Lesson 2)

"Ta da! Now you have your completed spirit animal sticker! We will go around the circle to let each of you share your sticker and explain why you chose your animal. Then, since this animal represents you, you will put it on your pencil box/cubby/chair as a name tag for the school year." (20 minutes)

Improv adaptations: Students make animal sounds, act like their animal and classmates guess, use adjectives to describe animal, play 20 questions to figure out each other's animals