Tag Archives: printmaking


Wow!! I have been blown away by this lesson. Last summer I went to the exhibit Spring into Summer with Andy Warhol and Friends! at the Bruce Museum in Connecticut with my mom. When I saw Andy Warhol’s series of Endangered Animal Prints, I knew I wanted to try something similar with my fourth graders this year.

After working abstractly for quite a while, I thought this lesson would be a good way to balance the curriculum because students are challenged to work observationally and experiment with various color combinations and layering.

As I was making a PowerPoint of some examples of Warhol’s prints, I came across this lesson by Mr. Stoller at Thomas Elementary. I used some of his images when presenting this lesson to my students, but gave them more color options and used Pacon Fadeless Paper to print on. I also set out pieces of painted paper for students to use if they wanted a more textured effect. (The prints measure 6″x6.”)

In my intro, I described Warhol’s commission (as described in the above link), defined endangered species, and showed students examples of prints from his series.


I printed out a variety of images of endangered animals ahead of time and students looked through my selection, or asked me to look at the WWF Species Directory and print out a picture of an another animal on the list. They were surprised and curious at the different levels of conservation status–from near threatened and vulnerable to endangered and critically endangered.


After drawing their animal with pencil, students taped their drawing to a square piece of Styrofoam and traced the outline of their animal with a pencil. Then, they lifted up their paper and carved their lines using a carving tool.


Next, students were ready to print layer one. I reviewed how to use the printmaking tools and students got to work. For the first layer of ink, students are limited to one color, but could choose different colors of paper if they wanted to.


After printing at least four copies of the first layer of their animal, students washed off their Styrofoam, dried it and reattached the tape. (Before printing, I had students trace the outline of their tape with a Sharpie so they would know where to attach it.) Students used the same method as above to trace the eyes, nose, mouth, fins, fur or other details of their animal and then carve the lines with pencil.


Then students cut out the outline of their animal and  began printing their second layer of ink.


Some students loved the printing process so much that they printed a third layer of ink to create a background or to change the color of a specific detail of their animal.

The last step was to create a background and/or add details. Students had three options for this step:

  1. oil pastels to add brighter colors;
  2. colored pencils to add fine details;
  3. or collage papers, including tissue paper, painted paper and construction paper.

Below is a sample of students finished prints.


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After practicing making all different types of lines, I challenged kindergarteners to develop strong printmaking and coloring skills by making colorful Mandala Line Prints.

First, k’s reviewed different types of lines and drew them onto a triangle piece of Styrofoam using a magic marker. Next, they carved their lines using a wooden carving tool.

At the beginning of the next class, I demonstrated how to print with the ink. Students watched how to use the rollers to put ink onto the Styrofoam, line up their triangle on their paper (so the long side touched the edge) and then print their design with a clean roller. K’s watched as the ink came off the Styrofoam and onto the paper and learned that each time they wanted to print, they needed to reink their piece of Styrofoam.

After the demo, students who were ready to go began printing. I put out piles of paper on the rug and set up the tables in my room so that there were different ink colors at each table. Students chose which table they wanted to go to to do their printing. Each student printed their triangle into their paper four times.

Each student made two “final prints” so that they could try out different colored inks on different colored papers. If a student didn’t use enough ink or didn’t press hard enough with the roller, their print didn’t show up. When this happened, I had students reink their triangle and try printing on the back of their paper.


The last step was to color in their lines with colored pencils. I talk about choosing colors that are different then their ink color so that their lines “stand out.” Sometimes I hold up their papers from across the room and ask them if they can still see their colors… and sometimes they ask a friend to hold up their work while they walk across the room to check out their work from “far away.” 🙂


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Maria Sibylla Merian, Metamorphosis of a Butterfly, 1705

As inspiration for this lesson, Ms. Nemes showed first graders botanical illustrations by Maria Sibylla Merian, “one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly.”

Then students practiced being scientists and artists by observing an insect of their choice carefully. Students could choose to study: an insect preserved in resin, a non-fiction book about an insect or a scientific drawing. Each student created a sketch, labeled their drawing and wrote one sentence describing something interesting they noticed about their insect.

Next, students were challenged to translate (and simplify) their complex drawing into a collagraph using mixed-media materials. Students shopped for foam, wire, mesh, oak tag, buttons and string at the “art store” and then cut and arranged the materials to create their collagraph. The last step before printing was to paint a thin layer of mod podge over their collage.

Next, students learned how to print their collagrpah using ink. Each student painted their collagraph with ink and then used the printing press to create 3 copies of their image. After they printed, students added details to their prints using oil pastels and colored pencils.

Second graders had so much fun experimenting with different ways to print leaves. First, students went outside to create texture rubbings around school. Students made rubbings of bricks, the sidewalk, grass, trees, benches and more! Then, students collected 2 leaves and brought them inside to create a second layer of crayon rubbing.

On the second day of this lesson, students learned how to paint with watercolors over the crayon rubbings they had made. Students were also given the option of creating rubbings on tracing paper. On day three, students learned how to print leaves using ink. Students loved experimenting with the different techniques. Students’ finished prints needed to include at least two layers or techniques.


My students loved making these Recycled Robots. As inspiration for this lesson, I read the book Robo-Sauce, written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. I also showed students a slideshow of robots form the 1940s/50s and had them guess what power/job the robot might have.


Then, each student chose a piece of (square or rectangular) cardboard for the body of their robot and then created and attached arms, legs, and other parts to the body using oak tag. Students added facial features and buttons using bingo chips, buttons, and foam shapes.


Then students printed their robot two ways. First, by creating a crayon rubbing and second by painting and printing their robot to create a collagraph print. Students REALLY loved using the printing press.

Kindergarteners have been working on their Shape and Texture Books for a few weeks. On the first day of this lesson, students learned how to create a crayon rubbing by: bending a piece of wire, putting it under a piece of paper, and rubbing with the flat side of a crayon. Next, students went on a texture scavenger hunt and “collected” textures around school–on the stairs, on the wall, and outside! When students came back inside, they practiced their cutting skills by cutting out each shape (and saving it in a baggie for later).


On the third day, students used fall colors to print colorful leaves. (I collected the leaves ahead of time.) For this step, students shared printmaking materials with a partner. Each partner chose one color and when students inked their rollers, the colors blended together, creating a “rainbow roll.” The excitement was contagious and students printed leaves on their paper multiple times.


The next class, I told students that all of their experiments would be turned into a one-page book! To make the cutting a little easier, I folded each student’s paper and drew a line on the back so they knew where to cut.

After opening up the paper, students arranged and glued their texture shapes (from day two) and pieces of pre-cut textures (like ribbon, bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, foam shapes, and more…) onto each page.

Finally, students created a cover for their book. On the front of the cover, students wrote “Shape and Texture Book.” I wrote the words on the white board next to the rug area, and students copied the letters. (Because this project had a lot of steps, I only had about 5-6 students on the rug at one time.) Then, students traced their letters with a thin Sharpie and decorated the cover with pictures/designs.  When all the parts of the book were complete, a teacher helped fold the pages together and staple the book together.


Students had so much fun making these and they are excited to take them home and share them!


Inspired by this post, I wrote a short letter explaining the whole process and attached it to the book with a rubber band.

Check out these links for instructions/handouts on how to make a one-page book.

8-Page Mini Book

How to Make an 8-Page Zine

Off-Cuts Zine Workshop


The 8th graders created a stencil of someone important to them. I got a grant to buy spray paint from the  PTO and Blick happened to have a buy 5, get 1 free sale on Montana Black spray paint. It comes in a lot of different colors. I printed out some tips from this instructables lesson and reviewed them while I demonstrated how to use the spray paint. Then students practiced using spray paint to print their image. They also wore dentist-like masks to keep the fumes out (not pictured.)


Next, they’ll create a background and then create a final print by layering their stencil on top.


4th Graders are literally printing up a STORM in art class! 🙂 After drawing and carving a spring-time image, students printed their picture two ways. First they printed with a water/marker technique.


After the prints dried, students experimented by printing a layer of black ink on top of their image.



I hosted a t-shirt and poster making fundraiser today. I had a lot of fun teaching kids how to silkscreen and tie-dye. After printing the ink with a screen and a squeegee, we put the shirts in the oven so the ink could set (dry) quickly.


Students also had the option of making posters to hold on Marathon Monday. I can’t wait to see them on race day!