Here's a cool art project that's perfect for a hot summer day. Use seashells that you and your child have collected from a family vacation or purchase some new ones at any crafts supply store. Then let your child turn a plain piece of paper into a textured masterpiece simply by dipping shells into paint!
This activity reinforces basic math concepts such as multiples and the part-to-whole relationship. Additionally, this activity will encourage your child to learn about basic elements of art and design such as color, shape, texture, and pattern.
What You Do:
- Lay down the newspapers on your painting area and put on those art smocks.
- Now do a test run with the paint. Have your child experiment with the printing process by dipping the shells (or coating them with a paint brush) into the paint or ink, then pressing firmly onto the paper. Try painting with different amounts of paint or ink and a variety of colors to see what textures and shapes the shells can make.
- After your child has explored this process, brainstorm ideas of what to paint, such as animals, shapes, or patterns.
- Have your child dip the shells into the paint or ink, and then press them firmly onto the paper to create the desired picture. For example, to create a cat’s head with a small round shell, your child would need to dip the shell into the paint or ink then repeatedly print the shell in a circular pattern onto the paper (re-dipping as needed). Remind her that different shells will print different textures and different shapes.
- Set aside to dry.
Encourage your child to add layers of prints on top of prints. A leopard may contain one layer of orange or yellow prints, with a second partial layer of black or brown prints on top as spots, for instance. You can also extend this activity into other printing projects by finding different materials. Search the house or outdoors for materials suitable to print from such as leaves, sticks, or flowers.
Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.