One of my favourite subjects to teach is art. I love the creativity and imagination that children reveal when they create and bring different art and craft ideas to life.
One of the things that I love about art is introducing children to various types, mediums and forms of art. Printmaking is one area that I really wanted to introduce my children to.
I remember doing a printmaking activity when I was young, so I thought of a way to bring these art and craft ideas to my classroom.
I have seen printmaking done in many different ways, but this was by far the easiest and most effective that I have tried with kids. This activity could easily be done at home or in a classroom setting.
I did this activity with over 100, 3-6 year olds 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 never told children the design or picture for them to make. They each chose a picture that was interesting to them.
If you are working with older children, this is a great art activity that kids of all ages will enjoy.
Older children can be challenged to create more involved, detailed art. This starts with a very basic idea of printmaking, but can create very intricate, beautiful creations.
Most of the materials you need for this art project are fairly simple and you likely have on hand.
- Foam Sheets
- Rolling Pin
- Cardstock (White is best)
- Paint Brushes
- Cardboard Shape Cutouts (Optional)
- Pencil Crayons or Pencil
To start our art lesson, I modelled an example of how to create a print.
Since I was working with young children, and we were studying 2D geometry and shapes, I decided to give children some shapes to trace and create a design with for their first print.
This also gave me an easy way to tie math into art. I am always looking for activities that do this!
You don’t need to give children a tracer, but I found it helped for the first print each child did. The tracers gave children something simple to start with and try the project and see what worked and what they liked in their print.
Steps to Creating a Print
First, decide what shape or picture you are going to create. It is best to start with something simple for your first print. You can always add to your picture later for your second print.
Using a pencil crayon or pencil, trace or draw a shape onto the foam sheet. You need to press hard enough so that there is a definite dent in the foam sheet.
When I did this with children, I told them to make sure 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. This is important. Many children had to go back and make their lines thicker before creating their print because it would not show up otherwise.
Once you have drawn your shape or picture, add some designs (polka dots, zigzags, stripes) and details inside and around the shapes.
Encourage children to fill their foam sheet as much as possible. The more details you add the better the print turns out.
Once you are happy with your picture, and have made sure that the lines are deep, then you are ready to create your print!
Use a paint brush to cover your picture with a thin layer of paint across the foam sheet. If you want to get extra creative, you can use different paint colours across the foam.
Before the paint begins to dry, set a sheet of cardstock paper on top and roll 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. They also help to evenly press the paint across the paper.
I used small rollers that we only use for crafts, but larger rollers will also work. Just avoid getting paint all over them.
Once you have pressed the cardstock onto the foam, gently peal the cardstock from the foam to reveal your picture.
The prints will not be perfect. This is part of the appeal with printmaking. It creates a very unique look for each picture.
In class, the children’s 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 found things in their foam sheet and print that they wanted to change or add to. Many children made their lines deeper and added extra details. Others 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. I love how children were able to see what they needed to do to make their pictures better.
It is easy enough to do several prints from the same foam sheet. The foam can even be rinsed to change the colours and then make another print.
This craft idea also serves as a great introduction to printmaking for kids and the invention of the printing press. We had a great discussion about how the printing press was used to copy text/pictures in the past.
You will love seeing the excitement as children peal back their paper to revel their print! Although printmaking is not always considered with art and crafts ideas, children love learning different kinds of art and craft ideas.
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