A simple piece of paper and a cup of paint have the power to encourage children to develop skills in a wide array of curriculum areas. Children problemsolve as they investigate ways to make new colors by color mixing. They explore line and shape as they make paint strokes of many different dimensions. They observe and predict as they add larger and smaller quantities of water to their paint containers. Although children encounter paint and paper every day, they may not have explored the many ways these items can contribute to science and math understandings, or even musical expression. In this section, you'll find activities that open the door to seeing the full potential of paint and paper.
Before exploring the paint and paper activities, try these ideas to introduce the materials:
- Begin with a brainstorming session. Pass out a piece of newspaper or drawing paper to each child. How many ways can you change a piece of paper? What can you do with your changed paper? Try it and see!
- Invite children to explore using the paper in different ways-folding, ripping, crumpling, and so on. What can we do with our changed paper?
- Ask children to suggest ideas for using their new creations at the art table or other areas of the classroom.
- Extend the exploration of paper by brainstorming a list of all the things children can think of that are made of paper.
- As "homework," ask children to bring in something made from paper to share in a classroom "paper museum." Try to bring in some surprising items for children to explore such as paper clothing, hats, or rice paper-wrapped treats that they can eat!
Using the Activities
The simplicity of materials for the paint and paper activities makes them perfect for embellishment. Just by changing the type of paper you use with paint, you get an entirely different result and a whole new problem-solving experience. You can:
- Start with the following paint and paper activity plans and then use your imagination to expand the experiences. For example, introduce the work of great artists or children's book illustrators who have used different types of papers in collage work or even paper making. Invite children to create in the "style" of these different masters.
- Inspire three-dimensional thinking. Provide papers that have odd textures or shapes, or mix sand with paint to change its texture.
- Invite children to be color "scientists" and explore mixing colored waters and/or paints in their own color laboratory outside!
As children participate in the paint and paper activities, observe the following:
- Do children "mess around" with materials or do they plan and create a thought-out picture? (Both experiences are valuable.)
- Are children interested in writing or telling about their artwork? Do they prefer to experience the tactile and creative fun of the materials without adding words?
- Can children think of ways to expand the activities by thinking of new things to do with paper?
- Are some children intimidated by the idea of exploring artwork on their own, or are they excited and willing to create in their own way?
Conversations and Questions
With just one carefully considered question, you can send children off to the world of wonder and experimentation! Here are some questions you might want to pose to inspire children's thinking. (Always remember to wait for their answers and to accept all answers as correct!)
- How many ways can you use a piece of paper, a paper plate, a paper bag?
- Can you build a house with paper?
- Why do we use paint on houses?
- How many different "yellows" can you make with paint?
- How can you paint on corrugated paper a box, wallpaper, paper-towel tubes?
- What happens if there is a hole in the paper you are painting?
- What can you and a partner build with newspapers and rubber bands?
- What can you do with a line, a circle, a dash of paint?
Building Skills With Paint and Paper
Extend the paint and paper activities you find in this section or introduce your own creative paint and paper activities to help children build skills in the following areas:
- Problem solving
- Making comparisons
- Creative expression
- Expressive language
- Fine-motor coordination
- Socio-dramatic play
Use Paint and Paper to Explore
- Color (mixing)
- Making Paper
- Great Artists and Musicians
- Five Senses
- Favorite Illustrators
- Building and Constructing (Architecture)