This is not high tech. It is not original and unique. It requires only paint, paper, water, a sponge, and a brush. But sometimes classic and easy is what makes a long-lasting impression. My beloved early elementary art teacher Mrs. B did this fall project with us and I STILL remember it. Of all the art projects from the 9 years that I had art classes in school, this one stands out and I was probably only 5 or 6 when I did it. Here it is:
Sponge painting fall trees!
Sounds kind of “ho hum” to those of us striving for complicated and original art forms, but I can guarantee that the results are usually amazing, even with really little ones. Watch your children’s faces as they work. There is something magical that happens when they realize they can paint beautifully with something other than a brush!
- Orange, red, yellow, and brown paint (I recommend a washable tempera)
- White paper (ordinary copy paper is fine)
- A wide brush and a small sponge (sea sponge is best, but any sponge is OK)
- A bowl of water for rinsing the sponge between colors
Let each child draw a tree trunk on the paper with the wide brush and brown paint, beginning at the bottom and extending half-way up. Then let them have at it with the sponge and the colors.
Be sure to teach them to lightly dip the sponge in the paint (really a tiny amount works much better) and to dab the sponge gently on and off the page. Some will want to smear it like a paint brush. Some will still smear it on the page like a paint brush despite the instructions, the results will still be satisfying and fine, but not as realistic.
Also, be sure to explain that before changing colors they should dip the sponge in the water to wash it off. Demonstrate squeezing the sponge over and over to get the old paint out. Also demonstrate how to squeeze it really hard over the bowl afterwards until it doesn’t drip anymore. This is quite important, because some young children will be more fascinated with the whole sponge and water process and will wind up with a very wet artwork.
If you try this with a large group of young children, be prepared for a lengthy clean up in the art room, and the bathroom where they will wash their inevitably, very much paint-covered hands.
Also be prepared for huge interest (even from reluctant artists) and lots of smiles and pride in their accomplishment!