Watercolor and Foam Exploration

For our watercolor week, the children explored liquid watercolor in a variety of ways. They started by drawing on the watercolor paper with oil pastels so they could investigate the “resist” effect between the oil and water. When they painted over their drawings, the oil pastel resists the water and shows through the paint. If you want to try this at home, our Make+Believe Wonderful Watercolor Resist! Supply Kit includes everything you need.

Using tools, such as the eye dropper or the spray bottle, help to build their little hand muscles and develop fine motor skills. Since the watercolor is much more fluid than tempera paint, working at the easel adds a whole new dimension to their paintings- lots of drips and downward movement!

This session we introduced some jumbo coffee filters to paint on. The dried results are really cool- keep your eye out for our upcoming group project using the painted coffee filters!

 A favorite activity… spraying white foam paint, then driving toy trucks through the foam.

For our older toddlers, we introduced the idea of drawing a self portrait with the oil pastels using a hand held mirror for reference.

I love to see how the older children interact with materials in different ways from the young toddlers. With the foam paint, they carefully dropped watercolor onto the foam and created a marbled effect by swirling a brush through the colors.

Watercolor Techniques and Valentines

We started off our watercolor week with a bleeding tissue experiment in the 1s/2s classes. The children placed pieces of “bleeding” tissue paper (the colors bleed when wet) onto their watercolor paper and used a variety of tools to moisten the tissue with water. When the watercolor dry, the children will use them as a base for making valentines.

Aside from the basic sponges, the children used droppers, sponge rollers, sponge stamps, and spray bottles to get their tissues to transfer color to their paper. All of these tools provide the kids with  different opportunities to develop their fine motor skills.

The spray bottles are not only a blast (pun intended!), but they also help to strengthen little hand muscles.

 Spray bottles and brushes were used at the easels with liquid watercolor to explore the dripping effect.

After some super wet exploration, the kids were introduced to foam paint (a non-toxic paint with a shaving creme texture). I like to provide white foam paint so the kids can add paint themselves and create their own colors. Adding glitter is fun too!

 Spraying foam paint on the acrylic wall panel offered a different kind of messy sensory experience!

In the older 3s/4s and 4s/5s classes, the children started off with a still life drawing of a pot of daffodils. For their drawings they used black sharpies and oil pastels, which are a great base for the watercolor resist technique. Each child was given a few different sized pieces of watercolor paper so they could eventually turn these works into Valentines.

After drawing, the children were given liquid watercolor and watercolor brushes to add more dimension to their work.

 A finished still life from the 4s/5s class:

If you’d like to try these techniques at home, check out our Make+Believe Wonderful Watercolor Resist! Supply Kit.
After working on the paintings, the kids made different Valentines by gluing small collage items onto bright tag board. The hearts and butterfly paper shapes were made by using a paper puncher on old paintings- a great way to re-use old artwork that you would otherwise throw away!

With our sporadic weather, we occasionally hit a warm day and get to have some fun outside in the garden after art class. It looks like a dance party going on on top of the hay stacks!

Watercolor Exploration

For the second week of art class, we focused on liquid watercolors. We began with an oil pastel/watercolor resist technique where the combination of an oil pastel drawing and watercolor painting creates a resist effect. The oil pastel resists the watercolor and shows through the painting!

The 2s classes practiced making marks and drawing shapes. Then painted over their drawing with liquid watercolors.

Of course glitter was involved and some children chose items from the shelf to incorporate into their paintings.

We also practiced more fine motor skills by using droppers to suck up the paint and drop it onto coffee filters. This type of paper soaks up the watercolor to make an interesting tie-die effect.

Finally, the 2s classes, had a super sensory exploration with white foam paint (which feels like shaving cream, but is non-toxic), watercolors, and fun tools!

For the drawing portion of the 3s/4s classes, we focused on self-portraits. Each child was given a hand mirror to study their faces before using oil pastels to try to draw themselves.

After a fun attempt at self-portraits, the kids began to explore the watercolors with droppers, toy cars, and glitter.

After class, the kids continued the fun outside- playing at the water table and spraying liquid watercolors onto a large drop cloth.

The evolving garden at GROW also proved to be a source of non-stop entertainment. The chickens and bunny were enticing the younger ones, while the older boys were engaged in some hard work… filling up a wheelbarrow with logs and straw! 

Leaf Rubbings and Exploring Pastels

For our final week of the session, we focused on leaf rubbings and pastels. The children first learned how to create an imprint of a leaf by placing it under the paper then rubbing on top of the paper with the side of a crayon.

After trying out the leaf rubbings, I offered the children chalk pastels to explore.

They experimented with rubbing, drawing, and blending this soft, dusty medium.

Then I offered them water and a brush to see what would happen if the pastel got wet. As they painted their drawings with water, the chalk dust mixed with the water and turned it into a colorful paint.

After wetting their papers, they drew again with the pastel and noticed how the colors became darker against the water.

Being our first drawing project for the youngest 1s class, we focused on making marks with oil pastels, then trying out liquid watercolor over the drawings.

No matter what age, all the classes love to paint, mix, and pour watercolors. Especially when glitter is involved!

The 1s classes also got to do some major sensory painting with foam paint.

Foam paint on the acrylic easel adds a twist to this sensory experience!

Remember the clay etching experiment in the 3s/4s class? The clay was dry and finally ready for the 3rd step to complete the process. In order to try to rub off some of the top paint, the children moved sand paper around in circles on top of their clay. The hope was that this would roughen up the top, leaving mostly the paint inside the scratches, so their design would stand out.

It was a little hard to sand off the top layer of paint, but they did manage to achieve a cool effect!

Thanks everyone for a great school year and final session. I had a blast!

Exploring Watercolor- All Ages

For our last week of the session, all of the classes started off learning about drawing and watercolor resists. The 1s and 2s classes used oil pastels as their drawing medium, which provide smooth deep pigments and work well in resisting the paint.
After taking a few moments to draw, the children were anxious to work with the liquid watercolors. I’ve learned by now that using a tray is a must when offering any kind of liquid to toddlers!
For the 1s class, I use jars for the liquid watercolor rather than the paint cup base that the older kids use. The 1 yr olds love to practice their pouring skills by transferring the watercolors back and forth between the jars… a skill that I like to encourage!




The children experimented with eye-droppers, coffee filters, and a few other tools they found on the shelf.
The 3s/4s class began with a still life drawing of a rose. I offered them black Sharpie markers (explaining that they are important “grown-up markers”) to carefully draw the lines and shapes of the rose. Most of the kids just drew whatever they pleased- grasping the concept of a still life will take a little more practice! After the drawing session, I brought out the liquid watercolors to add to their work.



Glitter became a key medium in this project!
After working with watercolors, the 1s and 2s classes got to experience the joys of foam painting! Foam paint is like shaving cream, without the toxic smells. I squirted some onto each tray and the kids enjoyed the sensory experience of lathering it over their hands and arms.
Then they added paint to the foam to create swirls of color.

The trays soon became a station for messy sensory discovery. The children used all kinds of tools and added water and glitter to the mix.


For the 1s classes I offered an extra layer of sensory by squirting the foam onto bubble wrap.




The mixture of water, foam, paint, and bubble wrap was delightful!
The 3s and 4s class moved on from their watercolor resists, to a different kind of watercolor collage. First they used a sponge and water to wet their paper. Then they placed small pieces of “bleeding tissue paper” into a collage design (when wet, the tissue paper releases it’s color). If needed, they used the sponges to moisten the tissue paper as well. When the tissue paper dries, it will fall off and leave a colorful design in it’s place!

Outside the 2s and 3s/4s classes worked on their spray bottle skills, spraying liquid watercolor onto a cloth and bulls eye paper.
The bulls eye spray game was something we tried out last summer. The kids love to aim and shoot!