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Fun Styrofoam Print Making Art Lesson

Use this Styrofoam print making art lesson with your middle school art classes.


Use this Styrofoam print making art lesson with your art classes. The most awesome thing about this art project is that it requires minimal supplies and can be modified to suit the primary grades up to high school art classes. 

Materials Needed:
1 dinner size Styrofoam plate per student
1 toothpick per student
printmaking ink in a variety of colours if possible
ink brayers
Plexiglas sheets cut to bigger than your plate you could also try using Acetate Sheets
-newsprint or printer paper to stamp the print onto

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Lesson Instructions:
1. Decide what they will make a print of – suggestions include their name, famous buildings or structures, and nature designs. I chose structures as they complement our Science curriculum. If you teach art as an integrated subject I would see if you can link their print to a content area (types of trees, angles, triangles, shapes). 

2. Have students research their print idea, and create a rough copy sketch of their idea. 

3. Conference with each student to review their rough copy, and provide feedback. If you approve their design then hand out one toothpick and one Styrofoam plate per student. I meet with students to ensure the rough copy is feasible to carve into the Styrofoam plate

4. Once students have been permitted to work on their good copy they can start carving their rough copy image into the plate. I tell students they only get one plate so they need to work slowly and carefully. 

5. Set up a print-making station on a sturdy table in your room. I use my guided reading table and cover it with newspapers to ensure it does not get ink stains on it.

6. To create the print-making station you will need to cover a table with newspaper and layout 4 or 5 Plexiglas sheets with ample space between them. Then put a teaspoon to tablespoon of ink on each Plexiglas sheet. Use a separate brayer per piece of Plexiglas to roll out the ink. You want a good amount of ink on the Plexiglas. To properly roll out the ink it should take several good rolls. 

7. Once students have finished carving their plates, they come over to the ink station and roll the brayer filled with ink over their plate several times. Once the plate is completely covered in ink the student flips the plate over and presses it firmly onto the print-making paper. 

8. I use magnet clips and hang the prints on my whiteboard to dry. If you have an art drying rack that would work as well. 

9. After the prints are completely dry students can mount them onto black construction paper to make it feel like an art gallery. I also have students sign their names in the bottom right corner. Their first initial and last name only. 

10. Host an art show via a school bulletin board, in the library or in your classroom to show off these neat prints. 

Lesson Changes:

If you do not have access to ink and brayers this can be done with a Styrofoam plate and juicy markers. Students rub the ink side of the marker all over their plates and then press on the paper to print. I would probably use small plates for this change.

This would be a neat activity to do with students who are just learning to write their names. They could write it in Styrofoam and then re-ink the plate several times to print their signature all over a piece of paper. 

Students can also carve into Lino Block or Soft Cut in the older grades, but this requires special carving tools and safety equipment. Here is a great blog post from Teachingisagift about Lino block printmaking.

If you loved this Styrofoam print making art lesson try this Tinfoil sculpture art lesson with your middle school art classes.

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