16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids

Printmaking is one of my very favorite processes to explore with children. Seeing how a texture or pattern repeats itself is full of magic, and a delightful process to witness and experience with kids.

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Here are 16 super easy, and very fun printmaking projects that are sure to inspire children (of all ages) to experiment with printing.

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Dip nuts and bolts into paint and repeat these cool shapes all over paper: Picklebums

Another household tool to dip into paint is the potato masher: Play Based Learning

Blow a paint + soap mixture with a straw, and you have some gorgeous bubble printing: TinkerLab

Roll ink or paint over a piece of styrofoam from a meat or veggie tray: TinkerLab

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Press okra into a stamp pad for beautiful flower prints: The Imagination Tree

Draw onto a paint-covered muffin tin with ear swabs for this fun printmaking exploration: The Artful Parent

Make a stamp wheel with a tape roll and foam stamps: Inner Child Fun

Cover a rolling pin with bubble wrap for this squishy experiment: Handmade Kids Art

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Another take on bubble wrap printing: tape it to the end of a tube: Creative Connections for Kids

Make these amazing patterns with recycled container printing: Picklebums

Use a rubber sink mat with a pattern to make these cheerful printed cards: TinkerLab

So easy! Dip toys or blocks into paint for block printing: Kids Activities Blog Sink Mat Prints

16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Make these cool shapes with bubble wands. Laughing Kids Learn

Corks make for easy to hold handles for these foam sticker-topped stampers: Happy Hooligans

Got Lego? There are so many shapes and sizes to play with: Filth Wizardry

Cut up rubber bands to make plates that can be printed: Kristen’s Blog Life


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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

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16 Easy Printmaking Projects for Kids | TinkerLab.com

How to Set Up an Apple Printing Station

how to set up an apple printing station from tinkerlab

Have you tried your hand at apple printing?

I suppose it’s a traditional Fall craft, but since apples find a way into our pantry year-round, I thought this was a fun project to share in these weeks leading up to Summer. You know, when you might need something fun to keep the kids entertained during the long summer days.

Apple Prints are an old stand-bye that my children always enjoy. The other day, 4-year old N asked me for some paint and apples so that she could make envelopes for all of her teachers. She had another plan for filling the envelopes that involved a sprinkling of sequins and some hand-made drawings. My two-year old is always game for printing, and in a matter of minutes apple printing was in full force!


  • Apples, cut in half vertically
  • Paper plates — to use as paint palettes
  • Washable tempera paint or Biocolors
  • Covered Table
  • Large pieces of paper
  • Clear space to contain the drying prints
  • Damp rags for wiping messes and dabbing painty fingers

apple prints closeup apple

The Set-up

  • If you have a precious work surface, cover it with a cloth or paper. We use brown kraft paper and oil cloth (pictured here).
  • Have your child choose a couple colors of paint. I like to limit it to two colors to keep the whole matter simpler. Squeeze the paint onto some paper plates. When you’re done, these can be dropped in the recycling bin.
  • Place a big sheet of paper in front of each child.
  • Place a damp rag next to each child. My kids always get painty fingers when we do this, and constantly get up to wash hands. The rag saves them the trip until they’re completely done.
  • Hand each child one apple, cut into two pieces.
  • Invite your child to stamp away!
  • Place completed prints in a drying area.

apple prints table

This project is great for little and big hands alike. My two-year old was challenged to press the apples down hard enough to make her prints show up while my four-year old worked on creating color patterns of apple prints.

apple prints making print

While I had to do a little bit of maintenance, such as collecting completed prints, while the kids printed, I enjoyed stepping back to allow them to experience the medium and develop independent ideas.

Some people are opposed to using food as a source of art-making because it can send the message that food can be wasted. With so many people going hungry, I understand the argument for this. My children’s nursery school won’t use food for art-making, which is the case with many nursery schools around the world.

However, compared to making prints from rubber stamps which can be derived from felled trees and rubber, apples and other vegetables seem like a decent alternative. In addition, so many of our traditional art-making materials are derived from food and other naturally found products. If you have an opinion on the matter I’d love to hear your thoughts.

How to make apple prints with kids

Ideas to take this further

  • When the prints dry, use a Sharpie permanent maker and add designs to your apple prints
  • Print with other vegetables such as okra, celery hearts, and carrots
  • Make prints from found objects such as egg cartons or bubble wrap
  • Source more ideas from this Pintererst Board that’s dedicated to Apple Crafts
  • If your child really enjoys printing, try your hand at Cookie Sheet Monoptints

apple prints

A Question for you…

What do you think about using food for art-making?

Explore Modern Artists: Print Like Ellsworth Kelly

Today we’re joined by illustrator and art educator Amanda E. Gross, who’s here to share another fun episode of Explore Modern Artists! 

Explore Modern Artists with Kids : series of projects on Tinkerlab

In the spirit of modern artist, Ellsworth Kelly,  your child might enjoy exploring nature’s shapes to create a stencil and make a painting!

Ellsworth Kelly (1923 -) is a master print-maker.  His plant drawings and screen-prints of simple shapes in brilliant hues are based on a deep reverence for nature.  Inspired by the Kelly retrospective currently at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, this activity is about noticing details, abstraction, and investigating new ways of expression.  

Ellsworth Kelly Prints

Artists use elements – or ingredients – in different ways, and abstract artists use them to express how they think and feel.

To begin, you might discuss the lines, colors, and shapes in pictures with which your child is familiar.  You could even do a tableaux vivant to physically explore the forms.  Next, you might read a book such as Leo Lionni’s Mathew’s Dream, about art appreciation; the illustrations, in which bright, abstract shapes are used to create representational images, can be a good way to introduce abstract art to children.  You may also want to show your child a few of Kelly’s images and ask such as:

  • What do you see?
  • Do these pictures look like things in real life?  Why or why not?
  • How do they make you feel?  Why?
  • What colors / lines / shapes do you see?
  • How do the colors make you feel?
  • Do the colors seem different when they are right next to each other?

Step 1: Draw

Ellsworth Kelly Printing Activity | Tinkerlab.com

Kelly began each image with a drawing.

Set up a still life of plants or fruit, or go findflowers outside.  Because this is an abstract drawing, observe what you see and pick out the basic shapes.

Draw large since you will cut these out.

Step 2: Stencil

Kelly 2

When your child is finished drawing, use scissors to cut out the shapes.

If you have cuts in your stencil that you don’t need, feel free to tape them up.

Step 3: Paint

Kelly 3a

Put a piece of paper (or cloth) under your stencil.  Choose a paint color.  So that your painted shape retains the outline of the stencil, try holding it down as you paint inwards from the stencil’s edge (or, you could tape down your paper and stencil instead of holding it).

Step 4: Design

Kelly 4

Use your imagination to experiment with how different colors act when placed next to each other, and explore making symmetrical and asymmetrical designs.


Ellsworth Kelly Printing Activity | Tinkerlab.com

If you’d like to do the project sans water and paint, try cut-and-pasted shapes.  For a new challenge, try screen-printing; to construct your screen, staple a nylon stocking onto a frame. Draw your plant forms onto the back of shelf liner paper, cut out these shapes, and adhere the sticky part to your screen.  (See image above) Paint!

Explore modern artists with kids: Ellsworth KellyResources:

More from Explore Modern Artists with Kids

Paint like Jasper Johns

Painting with Edward Hopper

Ellsworth Kelly Images

Top Row: Grape Leaves III, 1973-74. Lithograph on 300-gram Arches paper, 47¼ x 31½ inches. Edition of 50. © Ellsworth Kelly and Gemini G.E.L., Los Angeles. Collection of the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation. Red White, 1962. 80 1/8 in. x 90 1/4 in. (203.52 cm x 229.24 cm, Acquired 1966. Collection SFMOMA, T. B. Walker Foundation Fund purchase

Bottom Row: Red Blue Green,  1963, 83 5/8 x 135 7/8 inches (212.4 x 345.1 cm), Oil on Canvas, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Jack M. Farris.  Colors on a Grid (close-up), 1976. Screenprint and Lithograph on 350-gram Arches 88 paper, 48¼ x 48¼ inches. Edition of 46. © Ellsworth Kelly and Tyler Graphics Ltd., Bedford, New York. Collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer.

Amanda E. Gross_headshotAmanda designs curricula to guide and inspire children, teens, and adults to appreciate art and to create!  She earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an instructor at Academy of Art University.  Amanda is also an illustrator, painter, DIY crafter, and permaculture enthusiast. Find out more about Amanda here: Art Curricula WebsiteArt Portfolio WebsiteLinkedIn, and Pinterest.


Art Tips: Low-cost Stamps made from Cosmetic Wedges

Weekly Art Tips on Tinkerlab.comHave you ever made a stamp from a cosmetic wedge?

A few weeks ago I shared this art tip about how you can salvage paper scraps that are left behind on the art table, and I invited you to let me know here and on Facebook if this was a series worth exploring. Enough of you said “yes,” that I thought I’d launch this new series and give it a whirl.

Art tip:  Upcycle cosmetic wedges as inexpensive stamps

Today’s art tip

Upcycle make-up sponges into easy, homemade stamps.

If you don’t have any cosmetic sponges in your home, they’re easily found in most dollar stores or the make-up aisle of the pharmacy. The wedges have a spongy texture that’s dense enough to hold ink or paint. I spotted this bag of 100 cosmetic wedges on Amazon for about $7.00, which is another option.

Because the wedges have a triangle shape there are only so many things you can do with them, but we found that they’re great for snipping up a heart-shaped stamp. One point of the triangle becomes the bottom of the heart, and then a few simple snips of the scissors will give you a nicely shaped heart.

All of mine came out a little wobbly, but this gives them handmade character.

Art tips: Make-up Sponge Printing

For a more archival picture or card, you can roll out some water-based printing ink like we did, but the cosmetic sponge stamps will work well dipped in a thin pool of tempera or acrylic paint. Washable tempera is more finicky, but great for messy, little hands. Acrylic paint isn’t washable, but it’s a good alternative to printing ink for painting on fabric or something more archival.

So, do you have any cosmetic wedges that are itching to be turned into a stamp? Would you try this?

A question for you

Are there any areas of art-making that you wonder about or struggle with? What other art tips would you like to see covered here?


Symmetrical Butterfly Prints

This is such a fun project for toddlers, preschoolers, and school-age kids. The results are always a mystery, the supplies are simple, and it teaches children basic principles of symmetry.

This is so fun! Symmetrical Painting with Kids.

When my 1 year old naps, my three and a half year old non-napper and I like to pull out some of our favorite messy materials that don’t normally surface when baby hot-hands is awake.

The other day my older daughter wanted to paint, and we ended up making symmetrical butterfly paintings.

We like to call these butterfly prints, which may have some bearing on why my daughter made at least thirty of them! And I should say that I was recently asked to lead an activity at her preschool, and THIS is the project that N wants me to bring in. Not that I’m trying to sell anything, but how’s that for an endorsement?

Supplies for Symmetrical Painting

This list contains affiliate links

Washable Tempera Paint. We like Crayola washable paint and Colorations washable tempera paint

Cardstock Paper. This paper from Neenah is a good deal, and the quality is great.

Paintbrushes, optional

Palette, optional

**See our video below for a brush-free technique

The set-up was really simple. I squeezed four colors of tempera paint  on a plate (I always try to limit the palette — fewer choices enable children to focus more on the process and feel less overwhelmed by materials), she picked her four favorite paint brushes (these happen to be from our watercolor sets), and I gave her a stack of white copy paper (the thin stuff). She had an extra sheet of paper to rest the dirty brushes on — her idea!

I suggested, in the most open-ended way possible, that she could paint on one half of the paper or the entire paper — it was up to her — before folding the paper in half. She had her own ideas, as kids often do, and once she made the first print she turned into a printmaking powerhouse. Crank. Crank. Crank.

The fun reveal!

Ta-dah! So cute, she actually said, “WOW,” after the first print opened. Not so much the following prints, but it was clear that she loved the process.

See this project in action:

*We did this again when my older daughter was six! It’s a winner for all ages. This time around we squeezed the paint directly out of the paint tubes.

The experiments included lines, dots, overlapping colors, and even a couple diagonally-folded papers.

Do you remember making these when you were a kid? I loved these, and it’s evident that it’s a timeless wonder. If you have or work with older children, this activity is an excellent way to introduce symmetry. For a few more related ideas, Frugal Family Fun Blog has this idea for teaching symmetry with butterflies (I always enjoy how happy Valerie’s kids are in her photos), and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas shares two more ways to teach symmetry with butterfies + a handful of book suggestions.

More Art Projects for Toddlers

12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers | TinkerLab.com
For more toddler art projects, you may enjoy the easy-to-set-up activities that use mainly everyday materials in 12 Simple Art Projects for Toddlers.

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TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids