Spray Prints

Get your kicks spray painting cut-up shapes into surprising designs. These graphic prints encourage your child's early reading skills too!

WATCH OUT!

Spray printing is messy, so cover yourself, your child and workspace. For easy cover-up tips, check out our FAQ here.

MATERIALS - click to buy
  1. Newspaper or plastic tablecloth like the one found here on Amazon to cover your work surface.
  2. Small plastic spray bottle like this example with a misting trigger top, 2 cups or less in size - one per child
  3. 1 tablespoons liquid tempera paint per bottle, in jars like these or in tubes found here. You can use primary-color liquid food coloring like this in a pinch, but remember it can stain both hands and clothes!
  4. 1/2 cup water per bottle
  5. Small, washable spoon for mixing
  6. Small funnel like this example or measuring cup with spout such as this one found here to pour your liquids into the spray bottle
  7. Construction paper,  found here - Light colors like white or yellow work best for the background. Use contrasting colors, such as blue or red, for the shapes. They’re easy to see, plus they add to the color-mixing to the fun.
  8. Small objects like rocks or metal washers like these to weigh down your paper shapes. Feel free to use anything heavy enough to hold down the paper and small enough not to interfere with your shapes.
  9. Optional - Scissors, for adults only and kiddos 4 and up - to cut shapes as needed
HOW TO
  1. Adults, use a small funnel to first spoon the paint and then slowly pour the water into the spray bottle. Mix it up as it drains into the bottle. If you're using a measuring cup with a spout, mix thoroughly before pouring into your spray bottle.
  2. Now close the bottle tightly.  Shake, shake, shake it until all the clumps of paint are gone. Your little one can help you do this too!
  3. Ask your child to do few test sprays on the edge of your newspaper or into a sink to be sure that the mixture sprays as a fine mist. If it doesn't, add a bit more water until it does.
  4. Now tear or cut your construction paper into geometric shapes, such as squares, circles, triangles, rectangles.  An adult usually needs to do this, but some 4-year-olds may be able to, too. If your child wants to give it a try, be sure to let them. They'll ask for help if the need it.
  5. Note that younger children, 2 years and less, can have great fun just spraying paint, even without the shapes.
  6. Skilly Spark: Talk with your child about the shapes. Can they name them?  Let’s count the sides on each of them.  What colors do they see? Now let's see how things change when we start spraying them with color!
  7. Have your child arrange the shapes in a design or pattern on top of their sheet of construction paper. You child will enjoy naming their chosen shapes as they are used.
  8. Now, weigh down the shapely design with your small objects, like metal washers.
  9. Go for it! Have your child spray the paint lightly over and around the shapes, until the whole sheet is filled with spray paint. And have some fun cleaning up together!
  10. When the paint has dried, usually in less than hour, lift the shapes to discover and discuss the designs underneath!
Keep the fun going
  • Embellish! Use crayons or markers to add to the design after the paint has dried.
  • Go from dark to light-- Use dark construction paper and light paint.  For example, use dark blue construction paper and white spray paint.
  • Mix up a couple of spray bottles with different colors of paint. Try primary colors, like red and blue, for even more color mixing.

Thanks for the inspiration goes to the Japanese artist, Hokusai's woodblock print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" circa 1829–1833.