Printmaking in the 4th grade classroom

Today we started a 4 week section on printing. Penny introduced the class to a historical overview of printing from the invention of paper making to the printing on t-shirts they were wearing. Starting out, she asked the class what they thought of when they thought of printing. The first student to respond answered, “The PRINT button on the computer printer.”. Perhaps 10-15 years ago they might have thought about the daily newspaper but these days, I wonder how many of them ever see a daily newspaper! How things change!

We talked about the first books made with vellum and then plant fibers such as papyrus. We talked about monoprints, wood block prints, etchings, lithographs, silkscreens, & offset printing. They saw examples of early German lithographs, Japanese woodblock prints, and even comic books, and fingerprints!


Penny has kept a set of handmade stamps that were used when our kids were in the 4th grade-they’re graduating from high school this year! They were made with thin foam cut into shapes and glued onto a block of florist foam. They are deteriorating now but I think we got our money’s worth out of them! We handed out trays (recycled styrofoam meat trays) with 2 colors of tempera paint and asked them to experiment with the stamps and create a pattern.


We let them just practice with the stamps for about 40 minutes creating 4-5 prints per student. They were allowed to trade stamps and paint trays with each new paper. The kids really enjoyed just being allowed to explore these simple materials and experiment. It was a welcome relief from the test preparation they are going through right now. Teachers are stressed trying to get their classes prepared as results are published in the papers and schools are given money based on the results. Even home prices around schools with higher scores are affected! As if the results of one test on one day can tell the whole story here.

Meanwhile, the LBUSD plans on a 40 million dollar budget cut for the 2008-2009 year and the LAUSD looks at a 600 million dollar cut.Governor's Budget Sounds more like a mortal wound than a cut. I am happy to report that Art in the 4th grade classroom won’t be affected one bit! (since we don’t have any $ to start with!) Exposing kids to art doesn’t take a lot of money, it just takes some simple materials, a little time, and the desire to work with them.

One of the kids in the class was home sick today and his mom said he spent the day folding paper cranes from the YouTube video I sent him. I started a collection of videos on my YouTube channel that relate to elementary art. My aim is to create some “how to” videos for the shibori ribbon. I threw up a test video just to check it out and will be producing some better quality ones as soon as time permits. I have a few musicians around here to provide the background music. I also was able to organize my channel into topics which is helpful. Learning the ins and outs of YouTube. Bet some of those fourth graders could teach me a thing or two!

I laugh every time I think about the print button!

Next week: monoprints with oil based ink and water. Also still waiting on an answer regarding the museum trip. Keep your fingers crossed…….

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Filed under artists teaching art, elementary art education, LBUSD, Long Beach art, shiborigirl, teaching kids art

3 responses to “Printmaking in the 4th grade classroom

  1. Well, as a printmaking artist, I’m super pleased to see that you’re teaching printmaking to such a young audience. Fantastic! Thanks for promoting printmaking!

  2. thanks aimie! as someone who has been afforded the luxury to have benefited from exposure to art and craft (grew up in japan) at an early age and had the luck to attend a high school with separate studios devoted to ceramics,metals,jewelry,textiles,painting,and printmaking i am sad to see such a pittance of art in our schools today. if every working artist/craftsperson volunteered some time teaching art in a public school perhaps it might be beneficial to society as a whole….i know there are districts that still have art programs but here, we definitely are lacking.

  3. Pingback: Great Printmaking Lesson Plans and Ideas - Elementary Assistant

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