I have seen printmaking done in many different ways, but this was by far the easiest and most effective that I have tried. This activity could easily be done at home or in a classroom setting. I did this activity with over 100 kindergarten kids and they were all successful in creating a beautiful print. I love that with this printmaking, everyone starts with the same idea, but each final print is unique. When I look for new craft ideas I always try for this individuality, especially when I am working with children.
I started our activity by modelling an example of how to create their print. On a foam sheet I traced a cardboard cut out of a triangle. I showed students that they needed to press hard enough that they could feel the line with their eyes closed after they had drawn it. Each line needs to be quite thick and fairly deep. I used used geometric shapes for everyone trace with because we have been learning about shapes and it was an easy way to tie math into the art. Once the shapes were traced, I drew some designs (polka dots, zigzags, stripes) inside and around the shapes. I really encouraged everyone to fill their foam sheet as much as possible.
I started by handing out a foam sheet to each child. They traced some of the shapes onto the sheet and added extra details to create any picture they wanted. Once they were happy with their picture, and had made sure that their lines were deep, then were ready to create their print!
Students painted back and forth across the foam sheet with paint. Before the paint began to dry, we set a sheet of paper on top and rolled across the back to transfer the paint onto the paper. Simply pressing the paper down onto the foam sheet will also work, but I had the rollers available, and the kids loved using them.
Their final prints were very impressive. I loved the variety of colours used and pictures drawn. It was a great learning experience for the kids. After their first print, many children wanted to add to their foam sheet and then do another print. They wanted to added a few extra colours for their second print. It was a great trial and error project and the kids were eager to keep improving their print.
This craft idea also serves as a great introduction to the invention of the printing press. Students learned that text/pictures were copied this way in the past. Students were very excited when they pealed back their paper to revel their print!