Take a look in your recycling bin. Ask your child to do some sorting. Can he put all the plastic lids in a pile? All the metal ones? Clear lids give a better view of the paints below, but non-transparent ones work also. Collect a variety and talk about how they are the same, and how they are different.
Pour paints into containers so your child has colors to choose from. Tell him to use paintbrushes to paint patches of colors (or all one color) on the flat side of a lid. He should apply paint thickly.
Have him turn the painted lid face down and press it onto a piece of paper. He can smear it around in circles if he wants to vary the design. He may want to slide the lid or twist it.
With a different lid, have him paint colors on the thin lid edge. Place that part on the paper. When he lifts it up, he’ll notice thinner lines of paint rather than the big patches first created. Talk about the texture created on the paper and how it’s different than painting with a paintbrush.
Let your child experiment with the thin lines of paint (from using the lid’s edged side). For example, have him paint the lid edge, place it down on the paper, and move the lid in a spiral motion. Then lift the lid and observe his creation!
Let him experiment with different shapes from your recycling bin. For example, square or rectangle lids from a cheese container.
With paint brushes and paint, he may want to “fill out” patch paintings with other brushstrokes to complete a design. Let him experiment!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.