Tape Art

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We are a tape-loving house. You?

Tape art with colorful tape, clear tape, paper tape: young children will enjoy using tape in this process-based design activity that encourages fine motor skills, compositional choices, creative thinking, and more.

tape art

Have you seen this colorful paper tape at Target? It’s from the Kid Made Modern line and you can find it in the art supply section. I’m not an affiliate — just a happy customer.

It’s not washi tape, in case you’re wondering. Washi tape is traditionally made from rice paper and has a transparent quality to it. This tape is fairly heavy; I think you can tell from this photo that it’s got some body to it, which makes it easy for little hands to manipulate.

The tape comes on a long cardboard roll, so I fashioned a make-shift tape dispenser from PVC pipe and connectors that came with our Fort Magic kit and it works like a charm at keeping it organized on the table.

tape art

After watching my children use this fancy tape for a couple months I’ve come to see it as the love child of stickers and wrapping paper. It’s useful for adhering one thing to another, but my kids mostly use it as a form of decoration.

On this particular day I cleared our art table, cut brown paper bags into 6″ wide strips, and presented my kiddos with paper tape and brown paper bags. They loved it.

tape art

My 4-year old likes to cut her own pieces of tape and focused closely on building coordinated horizontal lines across the paper.

Oh, that and covering her fingers with tape.

tape art

My 2-year old is barely getting the hang of cutting (we practice a lot, and I recommend cutting playdough if it’s something you’re working on too), so I pre-cut lots of pieces for her to tape at will. She spent the whole time piling one piece of tape on top of another.

Remember, it’s the process, people, not the product!

tape art

I also pulled out our office supply store dot and garage sale-style stickers, which 2-year old R added to her tape pile.

tape art

This is my 2-year old’s completed piece, which is wildly different from my 4-year old’s interpretation of the materials…

tape art

So, what’s your design material du jour?

Since this colorful tape bonanza, we’ve moved on to clear Scotch tape, a new stash of stickers, mylar, and alphabet stencils.

More tape art inspiration from Tinker-past…

Why We Would Be Lost Without Tape

kids play with tape

Are you a “Tape House?”

We love tape in our house, and it gets used for just about everything: taping up wax paper sandwich bags, taping labels to things, taping art table creations together, taping up marble runs, taping up whimsical installations. A roll of clear tape is a fixture on the art table and we have a big box full of colorful paper tape (this tape from Discount School Supply is amazing) that enables my children to realize some of their big ideas. And painter’s tape is irreplaceable for taping up furniture and things that can’t stand up to too much stickiness.

Here’s an example:

We have a basket of diecast vehicles thats almost never taken out, but my one year old wanted to play with airplanes so we got the planes going. I saw this as an opportunity to “paint” some runways on our coffee table with blue painter’s tape.

My older daughter thought this was a great idea, but she had her own thoughts as well. I’m sure that many of you can relate!

First, she requested shorter pieces of tape and blocked my runways off with those vertical lines you see in the photo.

So, I abandoned my runway idea and made some cute little parking spaces.

That was also shot down.

N then blocked my runway with a big “X” so that the plane wouldn’t get away. I didn’t take it personally.

And then I learned the real reason for all this independent thinking!

Apparently a category 5 hurricane was on its way, and the plane was in danger of getting blown away. For extra safety, it was securely taped to the back of a large truck whose windows were also taped shut.

You know, because windows can shatter in a hurricane.

And if that wasn’t enough, the truck + airplane combination was carted off, dropped into a basket, wrapped in a blanket, covered with a pillow, and then sat on…

so that they wouldn’t blow away.

And all this started with a little bit of tape.

Now isn’t that a great way to spend $3?!

I really want to pick up some washi tape like this. Have you used it? Do you have a favorite brand?

What about you? Would you be lost without tape, too?

 

Taped Trees from Observation

tree with support

My older daughter, 3 year old N, likes to look through my library or “read” blogs with me and pick out activities for us to work on. I love it when this happens because then she’s self-motivated to work on a project, it supports my philosophy of educating children through an emergent curriculum, and cuts back on those “failed” activities. I was doing some research for a project I’m working on and stumbled upon a British early childhood education site when N spotted this activity (I want to give credit, but the link was lost). This is a wonderful exercise in observation and it doesn’t require a lot of materials or set-up…my kind of project!

Materials

We began by looking at a tree outside the window to observe and discuss the lines and scale of the trunk and branches. I loved how N’s eyes continuously darted back and forth between the tree and her paper. I suggested that she start with the trunk, so she chose black tape to make two vertical lines. I thought she might be representing the width of the trunk in relation to the branches, but I asked her about it before jumping to conclusions.

She responded that there were actually *three* trunks and still had one more tape stripe to make. Our little tree is propped up with support posts — she was so observant!

Her eyes moved back to the tree so she could take in the branches and leaves. At this point we went outside to get a closer look before returning indoors.

She added leaves in a bounty of colors, saying, “I bet you’ve never seen PURPLE leaves before!” As an aside, we went to the plant store later that week and bought a plant with purple leaves. She was impressed.

This project worked especially well with my daughter because she was able to articulate an image of a tree without having to draw one (something she’s not yet able to do). And it would be an appropriate project for older children as well.

Do your kids like to play with tape too? What kind of tape do you like to use?

DIY Marble Run

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Easy DIY Marble Run that helps children practice problem solving and creative thinking skills | TinkerLab.com

DIY Marble Run Supplies

To keep this simple (I like simple), this is all you will need:

  • Cardboard rolls
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Marble/s or small rolling objects
  • Scissors
  • Bowl or basket

Easy DIY Marble Run that helps children problem-solve and think like engineers | TinkerLab.com

Decorate your DIY Marble Run rolls (optional)

For this DIY marble run, we started by wrapping the paper towel and toilet paper rolls with colored masking tape. This step is purely decorative, but it added some pizazz to the design and kept my daughter busy for a good part of a morning. Totally worth it, in my estimation.

We had fun layering and wrapping tape, selecting colors, and cutting the rolls. Once the rolls were appropriately covered, I took a pair of scissors and cut the tubes in half, right down the center. N thought this looked like fun so she jumped in on the cutting action too.

Easy DIY Marble Run that helps children problem-solve and think like engineers | TinkerLab.com

Find some clear wall space

Set your marble run up on an empty wall, large window, or sliding glass door.

We found some wall space, taped the highest tube to a spot that N could easily reach, and kept on taping rolls until we had something we were happy with.

Test as you go

The trick to making the marble run work is to test it as you go. Marbles move fast and like to fly right out of the tubes if they’re not positioned to catch speedy marbles. We tested the sections of our DIY marble run a few times to work out the angles and distances. This is a fabulous math and physical science lesson!

Easy DIY Marble Run that helps children problem-solve and think like engineers | TinkerLab.com

Watch the magic happen

Once we got it to a place that seemed to work, N dropped in her marble and stood back to watch the magic happen.

Easy DIY Marble Run that helps children problem-solve and think like engineers | TinkerLab.com

Add a basket to catch your marbles

We needed something to catch the balls (and jellybeans!), and a strawberry basket was just right for the job.

Build a marble run from recyclables to encourage problem-solving and creative thinking | TinerkLab.com

Experiment

  • Try rolling other objects down the chute. How do they compare to the marbles?
  • Make chutes out of other objects such as cut-up  + folded cardboard boxes or folded paper. What material/s make for the best chutes?
  • Build a marble run inside a large cardboard box.

Tape Play

caution tape

This is what the breakfast table sometimes turns into in our home.

Pancakes, coffee, napkins, and, ahem…tape. Of course, yes, please pass the tape!

Tape has been a favorite medium since it arrived in our house a couple months ago, and it’s taken on all kinds of forms since. The colors are incredible, and full of tons of possibilities. You can find a set of ten colors here. Great stuff. Not only is it useful for adhering one thing to another, but kids catch on quick that it can be used to make lines, designs, and shapes. Sometimes on a large scale. And my 2.5 year old is really into cutting it right now. Something she’s working on, and by golly she’s determined to master the technique!

Nothing is safe when the tape comes out!

But why is tape fun for kids? It can be layered, twisted, and bent around the edges of paper (or objects!). It’s sticky! If you spend time around young kids, you’ve no doubt witnessed a near-universal adoration for stickers. And because the impact is immediate, it’s highly accessible. There are no questions about how bright the color will look (as there might be with paint), and the limitations of the medium give children a clear sense of what the material will do.

Children who haven’t mastered scissor skills shouldn’t be limited from exploring tape. I just peel off multiple strips and stick them to the edge of a bowl or table for my child to pull off at will.

Tape as an art medium has been gaining steam in recent years. Melbourne street artist Buff Diss makes large-scale tape installations (this is one of my favorites) and Philadelphia-based Mark Khaisman creates beautiful images with transparent brown packing tape. And that’s it…tape is their medium, and they’re really good at it. So, if you ever thought that your child isn’t artistic or creative because he or she doesn’t draw or paint, fear not! Creativity comes in many shapes and forms, and sometimes that form is masking, painters, or packing tape.

Tomorrow I’ll share another unexpected use for tape that came from one of my daughter’s current obsessions. Stay tuned!