If you have a collection of foam shapes you don’t know what to do with, you must try foam shape collagraphs. Printmaking for kids is one of my favorite art techniques, and it’s especially wonderful when it uses the simplest supplies (like this one). Let’s make some collagraphs!
Foam shape collagraphs sound fancy, but they couldn’t be easier
I first learned about this technique when I attended a National Art Education Association conference class and thought, “This sounds fancy!”
Ooh, fancy schmany.
I mean…doesn’t that sound like a fancy art technique?
It turns out that they’re wildly easy to make (making them perfect for preschoolers), but their ease shouldn’t fool you. These. Are. GORGEOUS.
Related: We love printmaking projects, and $1 window cling prints are one of our most popular ideas.
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- Foam shapes – you can also use foam shape stickers
- Glue – optional (if you use foam shape stickers, you don’t need glue)
- Cardboard – or other sturdy paper (I’ve done these once on manila envelopes)
- Paintbrush or brayer
- Paint – this technique is traditionally done with block printing inks, but paints are an easy, inexpensive alternative for kids
- White paper – any kind works
How to make foam shape collagraphs for kids
- STEP 1: Invite your child to add foam shapes to their piece of cardboard.
- STEP 2: Add paint to the foam shapes using a paintbrush or brayer.
- STEP 3: Once the foam shapes are covered in paint, lay a piece of paper on top, gently rub, then lift to reveal your print.
- OPTIONAL STEP 4: If your child paints all of the foam shapes one color (e.g., yellow), when they lift their paper, they will be one color. They can then paint all of the shapes another color, lay the first paper on, and lift to show layered colors.
Repeat the steps over and over: painting, pulling prints, painting, pulling prints, etc.
Paintbrush vs Brayer: What’s the difference?
A paintbrush is small and allows you to paint each foam shape one at a time, even allowing you to paint each of the foam shapes different colors.
A brayer is a large roller that you roll in paint and then directly onto the foam shapes, typically covering them in the same paint color.
When I first learned about making collagraphs in my class, we used brayers, and I immediately fell in love with them.
(When I went to link them to this post, I realized I purchased mine in 2016, and they’re still in perfect condition!)
What can I make with foam shapes?
Here, I made mine into a symmetrical design, with the left side being a mirror image of the right side.
Kids can experiment with making:
- Mirror images
- Favorite animals
- Random designs
Printmaking is just the best. Try some of these other fun printmaking art activities for kids:
Foam shape collagraphs for kids are a 10/10
There’s nothing not to love about these.
They are easy (and inexpensive) to make, unique to each individual artist, and each final print is a true work of art.
Any age that can safely use the materials! We do these with our 3-6 year old preschoolers and it’s always a hit.
No. You can use anything that is slightly raised like foam shapes, such as cardboard shapes.
One hundred billion times! You can paint on the same “stamp” over and over and over again.