Art making is an ever-evolving process that involves research, invention, and risk-taking. At the heart of process art is experimentation. It is important to offer art experiences that children can bring their own ideas to test and explore.
I love introducing monoprinting to children as it gives them such a powerful process of creating art. The first time I was introduced to monoprinting with young children was through Bev Boz in the mid 1990s. Bev Boz suggested trays with a variety of household tools as brushes. See my post here.
A monoprint (sometimes called monotype) is when only one print is made at a time. After the print is made – the process begins again. Monoprinting can be done on top of any surface. Pie pans and round cake pans are great because your print will be a circle.
Mark Making with Loose Parts:
The set-up of the activity is an invitation to the child to participate in the art experience. An invitation is a tableau of thoughtfully arranged materials ready for art making. For this activity I will put out a variety of loose parts for the children to explore mark making with. They can also go and gather loose parts they are interested in using as a painting tool.
I like to put tempera paint into condiment squeeze bottles for easy squeezing of the paint. This gives children complete independence in applying paint. I do not control the amount of paint they squeeze. For some children the process is all about squeezing the bottle. I like to trust the child's process and honor what is capturing their interest. If it is squeezing paint then I let them squeeze paint. Putting a tray under the tin will allow you to return the excess paint to the bottle. I use a kitchen scraper and a funnel on the condiment bottle.
Using a paint brush, foam roller or whatever the child wishes to use – cover the surface with paint. There is no right or wrong way. It is a process. It is an exploration into a medium (paint in this case) where children can explore and experiment.
Now the fun begins! The child can make marks in the paint with a variety of loose parts. I do not guide or tell the children what to use. I try to stand back and out of the way. Let them play with the materials and discover for themselves what is possible.
Bottle caps. . .
Sticks. . .
When the child is ready, they can press a piece of paper on top of the paint and press. Again, do not worry if the paper slides or the child barely presses. It is not important. So stand back and let it all unfold.
Oftentimes children will press so hard all of the marks disappear. It is all good. It is process of creating. It is the child's exploration.
The joy is in the process. And the process can continue! I love extending art making over a series of days. One day we mono print, the next day we use markers on the print and finally another day we collage on top. This can build the idea that art can be a long and sustaining process that takes days to complete.
thanks a million
Thank you so much for sharing about loose parts last month we were introduced about loose parts it is so good to know more.
Loose parts are amazing and once you realize how versatile they are – they become the fabric of your classroom!
So happy to share!
I love this one. I am going to set this up for my 3 year old at home. Thank you for sharing.
Yay! I used this process everyday in my 3 year old classroom. They loved it! Enjoy!
Thank you so much! Can not wait to get this under way!
The possibilities are endless!
So glad to be reading more about loose parts, especially for my triplet grandchildren!
Love this!! You should correct your spelling of Bev’s name so others can find her work- Bev Bos! She was a treasure!
Oh my goodness! Triplet grandchildren! What a joy! So happy you can use some of the ideas!
Thank you so much. This is the very interesting and I haven’t tried this. I like the way you have explained stating not to guide them and honour. Wow very informative
Yes! The heart of the matter! Trust the children in the process!
Sally – I love the step-by-step guide you’ve put together for this process of mono-prints. Your gentle reminders of letting the child explore; helps the adult step back and keep their hands off (LOL) Being a Bev Boss fan I too loved her independent art activities. Thanks for the post!
I’ve never heard of mono-print, but it looks like fun. It’s going to be interesting and exciting to see what my pre-school group do with mono-printing.
Let me know how it goes! It is super fun and the children love it!
Love the idea that you made us understand children’s learning process while making the art print. Without your advise, i would have stopped them from over squeezing the paint!
I am so happy! I highly recommend researching schemas as a way of understanding the children’s processes. Things that can drive us nuts, when you understand what is moving the child to do these things – you realize it is actually important!
YES! Bev Bos was such an amazing inspiration in my career. I think it is so natural to want to contain the mess but there is so much goodness happening if we just stand back and watch!
Thank you for the download
Absolutely! I love sharing!
Interesting article, I am going to read more about mono printing and would be like to know about loose parts.
Monoprinting is truly a wonderful way of capturing painting on surfaces. It can be a tray, a pan, even finger painting on the table! All you do is press paper on top of the paint and lift. Loose parts add another dimension. Let me know if you have questions!
I love this simple exploration! Using a round pan is brilliant. I also love the suggestion to add to the art piece across a few days. Quick question- I am a classroom teacher without a sink. I use buckets of soapy water then plain water for cleaning and rinsing hands. Do you have any suggestions on how I can offer a clean pan to each child ? I would have about four children printing at a time, then theyd need to be clean for kids cycle in and out. We have 18 children in the classroom with two teachers overseeing Choice time. Thanks.
Honestly, the paper absorbs a lot of the paint. I rarely clean the pans between children because if you are providing the same colors each time – it is the same color mess! I do like to put out damp rags for hand cleaning and drips. Let me know how it goes! I am here to help!
I absolutely love this did this either a mom artist years ago with 3 year olds. Cant wait to try again
Yay! It is always wonderful to circle back around!
Thank you for sharing.
So happy to share!
What a fun idea! I like to find new ways to use the loose parts that I tend to collect. My 3-year-olds would have fun with this – mostly with squeezing paint out of bottles I suspect! 🙂
LOL! Yup! When I worked with 3 year old I set up trays just to catch the paint!
Such a wonderful resource
I always put at least one tray of monoprinting out each day. Some children just love it.
Thank you for the download! It will be very helpful for some of my staff new to Loose Parts 🙂
Yay! Love hearing that! Enjoy!
It is really cool. Thank you for sharing. We definitely will try it and I am sure our children will love it.
Awesome! There are so many variations! More ideas to come!
Thanks for sharing this! I knew you could use rollers, sticks, plastic forks, blocks, cars,leaves, pine cones, but painting on a top of a pan or pot is such a great idea, too! Thank you for inspiration, the possibilities seem unlimited!
I love art processes that can keep evolving! This gives children room for their own ideas and investigating. So happy it was helpful!
I Really appreciate what you are doing especially when talking about loose parts.Children are fond of these ideas and they are real into it. Thanks.
Thank you! Loose parts are such a foundation part of Wonder Based Teaching. And you are so right – they are so in to it!
This is a great idea.. never thought of using those tools to make prints.My mind is spinning with the possibilities. Thank you.
I love variations on tried and true ideas!
I have ised those same squeeze bottles before, but not in this way. And even though I am pretty accepting of child exploration, I feel a little stressed by all the squeezing. Thanks for giving me permission to let it go.
Truly an art idea that takes on a life of its own, and bears a strong imprint of the creator!