When I first started teaching art and I had to present printmaking, I felt it HAD to be styrofoam or nothing. It is one way to print but not the only way. I believe the idea of making multiple copies of one thing has to be started in kindergarten with the most simple of objects that they can relate to.

Print the hand. They have it right there on their body….no expense to finding a hand.

They love doing it. It is icky and squishy. They love it. The biggest problem with printing their hands is the potential for a full on full tilt mess of all messes. They grab their other hand, then their face….and the mother of all nightmares….grabbing their clothes.

Here is a list of things I would do to deal with no mess:

  1. I do it, you do it. You print…they watch….you then have them raise that painted hand, you say “up and down..push, push.push and lift” hand straight up in the air. They place their hand on the paper–never lifting–but understanding pushing down with their muscles. Don’t be stingy with the compliments as you see the ones doing it correctly.hands-1234037_1280

Now I had two sinks I would call two tables at a time and tell them which sink to go to–with sink 1 or sink 2. I would quickly walk to every child and give them one paper towel to busy themselves getting the paint off their hands until I could call the next two tables.

2. Have a stack of super damp paper towels on the table before you get going. stack ’em and then wet them….putting them on a tray etc first.

3. When you repeat the procedures, have them repeat them with you. Have them show you how many hands will have paint on them, etc.


art crafts and family-image source

Now, finding items to print to make this process stick in the memory bank. If you use items they love and/or are familiar with…they will remember this activity and what they learned for years.

These tools can be had at any dollar store. They stand up on their own so nothing will be rolling off a table. Clean up–a breeze.


Printing with fruits and vegetables is a great deal of fun and inexpensive. For more “meaty” fruits, but them first thing in the morning and have them dry out a bit. Toss when done.

This one is a top fun project. Using Legos to print. You can find the knock-off brand of Lego’s or possibly find a mix bag at your local thrift store. These can be cleaned and saved for next. time.

Printmaking also does not need an object to print.

This lesson is a fantastic way to show print AND symmetry which is a key objective in elementary math curriculums. I have the students fold the paper in half, draw a tiny X on one-half. This is the half the paint will be placed over and over. This ensures more control over creating the symmetry. Dab, fold, pat and smooth, and open.

I have had sure success with this project.

These are just a few of the many ways you can use unusual objects to teach printmaking to your primary aged students. Soon I will share ideas for the older students.