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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002


  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Visit the carle


Making Art Together

Oil Pastel Scratch Pads

Thanks to the generous support of the Highland Street Foundation, we have looked forward to participating in Free Fun Friday for the past five years. This year, we had over 1400 guests visit! With the high volume of visitors and excitement on a busy day, we wanted to facilitate a project that was special and yet manageable, and after a lot of experimentation and testing, we decided that oil pastel scratch pads would provide a great balance of both. With our team’s invaluable help, we were able to provide ready-made scratch pads as well as all the tools and materials for them to make their own custom designs.

For the project, we had out baskets of crayons, oil pastels, tools to scratch through the oil pastel layer such as chopsticks and combs, as well as cardstock paper.

To make the scratch pads, our team covered papers in a layer of crayon. The more colorful the crayon layer, the more excitement as new colors could be revealed during scratching.

A layer of black oil pastel was then applied over top of the crayon layer to cover up the colors. (While you could layer any color oil pastel on top, we chose to cover our pre-made ones with black to create a high-contrast when scratched.)

After making the two layers, the pad was ready to be scratched, revealing the colors underneath.

If someone wanted to re-do their drawing or erase, they could simply draw over their scratches with a black oil pastel and start again. On the day, our guests had a wonderful time of creating their own scratch pads using a variety of different colored oil pastels on the top layer.

Some enjoyed writing words alongside images.

Some guests enjoyed drawing pictures or taking their lines for a walk across the page.

Other guests particularly enjoyed trying out the variety of unusual tools to scratch and show the bright color layers underneath, exploring textures and patterns.

Thank you to all who participated on the day and we hope you are inspired to create your own scratch pads in your learning environments!


We enjoy exploring materials and ideas in the Art Studio, and we’re excited to share our process with you! Please consider the following factors when adapting these posts for your learning environment: 

We facilitate a variety of programs within the Art Studio for a wide range of age groups. Please carefully consider the age appropriateness of each individual activity in your own learning environment.

Our projects are always done with adult supervision and proper safety precautions. Be sure all of your projects are overseen by adults who likewise follow proper safety precautions. The adults overseeing your project must also be responsible for handling or assisting with any potentially harmful equipment or materials. 

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art is not responsible for any damages, injuries or liabilities that result from any activities contained within this website, and we expressly disclaim any responsibility or liability therefor. From time to time, we reference materials that we have found to be particularly important in our projects. We do not receive any monetary compensation for recommending materials. 


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