Printmaking with Kinder and 1st grades this past year turned out surprisingly good. These groups struggled to finish projects due to the incessant need to talk non-stop while in my room. I guess I finally did something right because we had a 100% completion rate plus enough excellent examples to fill the large bulletin board in the school office!
Day 1 Printmaking Insects
Students view a variety of insects – either in print form or projected images from the Internet. We discuss the parts: body, head 6 legs, etc. Be sure to tie in your line, shape & pattern vocab as well when describing bugs. Years ago, I found an insect book on clearance for about $10. The images were so great, I proceeded to cut up the book & laminate photos as a resource. I had about 10 - 15 pix for each table group, which allowed for great variety & inspiration.
At the demo table, I set out supplies:
2 pieces tagboard for each student (I used 5” squares}
Pencil & eraser
I demonstrate how to write their name (and class code) on the back of 1 piece of tagboard. On the other piece they should draw a small ‘X’ in the corner. The ‘X’ piece is for drawing their shapes & cutting out shapes.
I demo how to start cutting/gluing with the largest part – the insect body, followed by head, 6 legs, etc. To make sure that the body was not too small, they traced a 4" diameter plastic lid and then altered it if that shape was not what they wanted.
Since kinder & 1st study insects/bugs in their classroom curriculum in our state this should be good review of prior knowledge. Be sure to demo how to use glue bottle (as one of my colleagues says “Just a dot, not a lot!”) and safe use of scissors. Introduce the term ‘printing plate’ – explain this is what we will use to create a print of our insect.
At the end of demo, my table helpers get a tray of supplies (same as those used at the demo table) for their table & head off to their groups. I set up my trays ahead of class time and reload & store before next class.
On this first day of the process, they should have a good start on the cutting/gluing – body & head plus maybe some legs attached by the end of the first class. As you circulate the room checking on their progress, be sure to use the term printing plate frequently.
Allow about 5 – 7 minutes for cleanup. SAVE all cut pieces for next week for those who still need to finish. Since there will be sticky fingers, pass out damp paper towels for cleanup – “Fingers First, then the table”. I only let my kids wash at the sinks for VERY messy stuff (tempera, clay, plaster, printing ink). Damp paper towels are for everything else. Otherwise, it becomes a day at the waterpark – water on walls, counters, and floors! Just grab a wad of paper towels (we have the folded kind) and wet them at the sink, wring ‘em out & then peel one or two (depending on level of messiness) off for each student.
Day 2: Printmaking Insects
Review basics from last class:
1. Tagboard piece that we cut/draw on
2. Tagboard piece we do NOT draw on or cut from
3. Parts of an insect
4. Term “printing plate”
Introduce the concept of adding pattern to the body w/cut pieces glued on top of the body. Let them see images again – don’t worry about having them copy a specific bug – they are creating an ‘original’ insect.
When a student is finished gluing bug basics, they could add a leaf or flower shape to their composition if time permits. After all gluing is done; they should brush a thin mixture of glue & water over the surface of their printing plate to seal the surface. Try & get all of this done in class or you’ll have to finish the glue/water bit by yourself. You want everyone present today to be able to print in next class.
Day 3: Printmaking Insects
During this 3rd class, the goal is to have everyone print their first copy. A table is setup as our printing station. Materials on the table include a stack of newspapers that have been cut into 4th's, an inking plate (I use a large plastic lid), 3 brayers (only 3 students will print at a time), printing paper, pencils and the student's printing plate (PP).
Students are called over 3 at a time and sit where I've placed their PP on top of a piece of newspaper. Due to the age of these kiddos, I ink their brayers & hand 'em over. They ink the PP & when finished, they lift the inked PP and I put a fresh piece of newspaper on top of the messy piece. They put down the PP & I center then place the white printing paper on top of the PP.
I show the kids how to make a fist & use their fist to burnish the print by circular movements. If you use printing ink, the stickiness of the ink will keep the papers from moving around. If you use paint, you may need to hold down the paper while they burnish because the paper will slip around...
When they feel they're finished, I go over the edges with my fist. Then the students 'pull the print', write their name on it, put it on the drying rack & washes up at the sink. I only need to lay a fresh piece of newspaper on top of the messy one & we're good to go with the next group of three!
The other students who are waiting to print or have finished their print are involved with Extra Activities (discussed in a previous blog).
Day 4: Printmaking Insects
The goal today is for everyone to print that hasn't already done it. I vary the end project this time - they print w/2 colors of ink, one on top of the other. Start with the kids who did not print the previous class due to absences or not enough time. The process is somewhat the same - ink the PP with first color then layer the second color right on top. Continue with burnishing, etc and use colored construction paper for the printing paper. This is the last day of printing so depending on your time frame & number of students, not everyone may get the chance to print twice.
One of the great things about this project is you can alter the theme - use it for radial balance, large/medium/small shapes, foreground/middleground/background, etc. I've seen many varieties within my district so adapted the process for my students. Let me know how you use it!
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