Make Printmaking with Kindergarten Easy and Fun!

The thought of printmaking can be stressful, but put the tools in the hands of Kindergarteners, and it’s about enough to push anyone over the edge! Luckily, there are so many fun untraditional ways to do printmaking with all ages. My personal favorite way to provide a low-mess and time effective printmaking opportunity in kindergarten is to use thumbprints. The options with thumbprints are endless. One proven successful ideas is make insects, and in this case, ladybugs.

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 2.10.10 PM

Students are allowed to print their thumb (only ONE thumb may be dipped into the inkpad) up to 10 times on a jar template that is provided. (Cutting this out is another great way for students to practice cutting on a curve.). Then, students can add details using thin tip markers. Taking it to the next level with the background would be up to the individual teacher. Students can also add other details of their choice into the jar, like sticks, rocks or grass.

If you are interested in trying this out, (it only takes one class period, or two if you focus on the background) you can download the jar template by clicking here.

Have you tried thumbprints with your students? What were the reactions? 

What are other ideas for printmaking in Kindergarten? 

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Vicky Siegel

    Perfect timing! Yesterday my kindergartners finished a “ten frame” watercolor set to coordinate with math. I knew I would have 15 minutes left, but planned on reading a book. Instead, I read this post at lunch, and quickly made a station of red stamp pads and the jar papers. Students came over when done, stamped 10 fingerprints, and went back to their tables to decorate. Some even made cherries!! :)

    • Vicky,
      I like the idea of keeping it open ended, too! What can a thumbprint turn into?

  • ElizT

    This is probably familiar to many art teachers. I’ve done this with
    K-6, where, the first day, you have kids color with crayons, heavily on a
    piece of sandpaper. Then, the second and maybe a third day if you have
    18+ students, while the rest of the class works on another project, I
    take each student one at a time and we flip the sandpaper onto a nice
    white sheet of drawing paper and put some scrap paper over the white
    paper to pad it while we iron over it. I always let the kids help with
    the printmaking ironing process by running the iron across the paper, as
    I very closely supervise (I instruct each student where not to touch
    the iron.) Then, I go over it once, too, in case they didn’t press hard
    enough or missed a spot. Then, we take off the newspaper and I lift up
    the still hot sandpaper and walla! Behold a beautiful magical print
    appears. This is a good lesson on symmetry, too. Many times I mount
    the sandpaper with its opposing design next to the print. You can cut
    sandpaper in half before the kids color, so you have enough room to
    mount both the original and the print on a 12 x18 white paper. I usually
    put heavy books over the finished products to prevent warping and
    curling as the glue on the sandpaper piece dries. Even Kindergartners
    finished prints look like works of art done by professional artists!
    Parents are always awed by this one. Designs rather than detailed
    pictures work best, because the wax prints do not lend themselves to
    detail so much; thus with a design, a younger student isn’t disappointed
    that they can’t discern the puppy they may have drawn. This is
    actually a no-fail art project where everyone’s looks good, as long as
    kids are prodded to use a very heavy hand at coloring until the wax is a
    very thick coat on the sandpaper.

  • Jorena

    We just finished decorative aka Indian corn in kindergarten. Students draw a big oval and then dip ONE pointer finger into a color (red or yellow) and print inside the oval until they no longer have paint on their finger, then they can dip it into the other color and do the same, until you have filled up your “corncob” with printed corn kernels. Then we attach corn leaves of brown craft paper (aka grocery bags). It makes a cute seasonal craft and a great printing review.

    I also do a unit on geometrical shapes where we study Kandinsky and Mondrian. Then we take objects that make geometrical shapes (yogurt containers, lids, old tupperware etc.) and dip them in paint, stamping the image on the paper.