Styrofoam Prints and Baby “Painting”

Printmaking is one of my passions, so we invariably make a lot of prints in my house. I was about to recycle a styrofoam tray (I think it was from a pack of corn) when N asked if we could print with it. Why yes, we can! We’ve printed with these before (Abstract Recycled Prints) and the technique is the same except this time we printed the pattern found on the tray instead of creating our own design.

I like this project because it’s inexpensive, helps children look to their surrounding for inspiration, and utilizes the pattern found in the tray.

We cut the tray into a flat piece.

My daughter squeezed tempera paint onto a cookie sheet, rolled it with a brayer, and then rolled it onto the styrofoam tray. She chose a red + white paint combo.

N moved the tray (or “plate”) onto a clean sheet of paper, covered it with another piece of paper, and then pressed it to transfer the paint.

Checking the print. Yay — it looks good.

Carefully peeling the print off the plate.

Meanwhile, Baby R, who now stands and walks along the furniture (i.e. cannot be contained with a happy basket of blocks) was desperate to join the fun and made a nuisance of herself, grabbing papers and reaching for paint . While she made the printing difficult, we wanted her to join us and came up with this alternative:

Baby Painting!

I scooped some yogurt onto her highchair tray and added a few drops of red food coloring to match our paint color. (The food coloring, India Tree Liquid Natural Decorating Colors, is made from plants and completely natural. I love that I can feel safe giving this to my kids).

While N continued to pull prints (without the distraction of baby sister grabbing her papers), R happily stirred her paint and ate away.

Prints, and most art projects for that matter, often get turned into other projects. N decided this one should be glued to a card.

And Baby R continued to enjoy the activity until is was gone.

Have you tried printmaking, and have you “painted” with yogurt?

This post is shared with It’s Playtime.


  1. says

    There is something about printmaking that has always appealed to me too. I have taught printmaking using a dull pencil to carve a design into the styrofoam. Oh, and I love the yogurt painting with all natural food coloring!

    • rachelle says

      The printmaking project I referred to in the post was done by carving with a pencil — this is a great, low-cost method. Thanks for the nice comment, Amanda.

  2. says

    you r speakin my language! love that you totally included the baby- reminds me of a time when I had 2 in diapers and they got into the yogurt while I was brushing my teeth- they painted the stools, the cabinet, each other and were starting on the floor when I busted them (gotta find that photo) – I didn’t even floss that day- they are just that fast! 🙂

    • rachelle says

      Haha. It almost felt impossible to not include the baby, Kelli 🙂 Your story cracks me up. I find that I do that sort of thing all the time — hand them something to busy themselves with for “just a moment” and before I know it everything is upside down!

  3. says

    Yes and Yes!! Hooray for printmaking and expressive art!
    My girls loved pudding and yogurt + food coloring painting in their highchairs when they were little : )
    Now we love mono-printing with found objects (Legos, toys, shoes) as well as pie plate, muffin tin, and cookie sheet prints. Great post and fun pictures.

    MaryLea (pink and green mama)

  4. Lori E says

    As I read “R,” I could not think of who you were referring to. Of course, Rainbow. So much less confusing that using, “I.”

    • rachelle says

      Lori, you’re a good sleuth! The “I” was so confusing so I flipped over to “R.” 🙂

  5. says

    How ridiculously cute is that baby? We’ve never painted with yogurt before, but we often dye it with food coloring for various foodcraft projects, so I do know that it takes color gorgeously! I think my favorite use for it is multi-colored layered yogurt popsicles, with my girls choosing the colors, dividing the yogurt, dyeing it, then spooning it layer by layer into popsicle molds to be frozen.

    • rachelle says

      Aww, thanks, Pumpkinbear 🙂 We recently made yogurt pops, but it never occurred to me that we could mix it with food coloring. It was before this yogurt painting exercise, so maybe I just wasn’t tuned into the possibility of mixing the two. But guess what’s on my list for the next hot day? Thank you!