View Full Version : printing project for children using styrofoam

02-04-2005, 10:06 AM
Hi again everyone

I just wanted to share a very basic printmaking project that I have planned as a lesson for a grade 2 class. I have been invited by the teacher to talk about art and have them do a creative activity. Since the budget is next to nothing I had to look at some options. There was also the fact that I really did not want to have them handling sharp objects like linocut knives.
What I have come up with is the following:
have the children draw into pre-cut pieces of blue styrofoam (you can get large sheets of these at local building supply retailers). They can use a blunt pencil or even the wooden end of a paintbrush to create the recessed line in the styrofoam. Then using a sponge roller and liquid tempera paint, have them ink the surface, then place their sheet of paper over the styrofoam block and gently rub with their hands and peel off carefully revealing the image.
They can use aluminum or styrofoam plates as the containers for the paint and inking the foam rollers.
They could even try rainbow blending of colours for effect.
I am attaching a basic example

Bridog :)

02-04-2005, 10:28 PM
This is an excellent idea. I had seen styrofoam prints, (most of them used the trays you get at them meat market, unfortuately the grocer here uses trays with a waffled bottom), I couldn't find a styro that would be flat. I never thought of the blue insulation board. The thing is I have used it as a drawing board to pin watercolors or pastels to in workshops. There is an example of something being right in front of you and you don't see it.

I have a half dozen youngsters I paint with once a week and we have used the easy cut blocks, but, that gets very expensive. I had the blocks and cutters left over from the kit I bought for an adult's demo. They loved printmaking. They enjoyed playing with mixing the paint with the brayer and made some beautiful gradations I envied.

You will find that working with kids will teach you almost as much at you teach them and it is so rewarding. (They will think you can do everything and sometimes you really have to stretch yourself. I once surprised myself with a zebra a young lady was so confident I could draw.) They will love this printmaking lesson.

Diane Cutter
02-05-2005, 05:41 AM
Yes, Brian, that's a great kid's project. I like the idea of the foam roller. I'd never thought of that...


02-12-2005, 12:09 AM
Met with the grade two class today (Friday Feb. 11) and everyone had a great time printing with styrofoam blocks. I divided class into groups of 2 per station for printing (they shared a sponge roller & small aluminum pan for inking, set on newspaper covered desks). All were given their own equal size precut styrofoam block to create their designs on. We created the prints by stamping foam plate onto the sheet of paper underneath. They also learned a bit about multi-colour using blending of ink (tempera paint in this case).
I learned something else. You can get better results with the pencil line by coating the writing-free side of the styrofoam with a thin wash of water-based acrylic matte varnish (apply with sponge roller). The paint also binded better to the surface. I found the sometimes on the uncoated styrofoam it would bead up in places (most likely from oil off the skin of my hand when I was embossing the lines.)
I got the children to draw their images first in crayola markers on the block and then go over the line with a sharp pointed pencil, applying some pressure to make the indentation into the styrofoam. They also figured out they could create wider areas of depression in the foam by pushing in with the eraser end of the pencil.
Also this class was bilingual (french immersion school...what can I say eh? it's Canada) so got to practice speaking en francais.
Made me chuckle a few times when I demonstrated making a print and the kids all applauded enthusiastically when the paper was lifted off the block.
here are a few examples of the creative efforts of 7 year olds. I loved doing this, and apparently have already been asked to come back to teach this to grade 5 class.


02-12-2005, 12:28 AM
I have been watching, hoping you would give some feedback about the experience.

Isn't it wonderful? Did you come away from the experience looking forward to the next time you can work with kids again? Did you find they asked questions you would not, had not anticipated? What did they teach you about yourself? What did you come away wanting to investigate? Are you hooked?

Kids are sooo rewarding to work with. Be careful, you will find yourself willing to pay to work with children if you don't watch out.

Their prints are wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

02-12-2005, 01:29 AM
Yes indeed BillieD
it was extremely rewarding
questions asked to me?...an understatement...I was bombarded with them but I answered them all...some I had to think about a minute before I gave an answer, these young adults sure know how to test one's knowledge
I learned that I really do enjoy the experience of being a teacher, something I suspected I might be good at (from doing some one on one art instruction with my siblings offspring) I think it comes from the fact I like to allow my innerchild to come forth. (reading a book a few years ago called "The Artist's way" really helped me to know myself better as a creative being)
I was awed by the way children can just go to it...draw out an idea in minutes and also they are not afraid to play with colour, I really noticed those who were extremely adept at expressing their creative sides as well as those who might need a little more encouragement
attaching a simple styrofoam line image I created in class to show the kids how to print


Diane Cutter
02-12-2005, 06:35 AM
What great photos! Thanks... I've worked with children on occasion. I know what you mean by waiting a moment before answering!!!