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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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Making Art Together

Toddler Art Exploration: Printing Circles with Found Objects

An exploration I offered in my Friday morning toddler program featured plastic caps and cups, paper towel tubes, paint, and paper. The great thing about this exploration is that it's not just for toddlers!

The paint we used was a mixture of about 5 parts diluted liquid watercolor paint (leftover from a different project) and 1-2 parts white tempera paint. Adding the white increased the viscosity and opacity of the watercolor paint so it would show up on black paper.  I mixed the paints in little cups then poured each color into its own tray, enough to just cover the bottom.

circle printing

As it turns out, this mixture created a surface tension that sometimes popped and splattered paint across the paper. One toddler's parent said, "Sorry, I think we're making a mess here." I told her there was no need to apologize. The mess is the point of it!

circle prints

If you want to try this at home, you might start by reading with your child a picture book with lots of circles in it. Then, have your child help you collect cylindrical objects from your recycling bin or around the house.

Experiment with whatever washable paint you have on hand or make some paint with our Homemade Liquid Starch Glue recipe and print on white paper. If your paint is thick, water it down a bit or just use a brush to create a thin layer in the bottom of a tray, plastic plate, or small cookie sheet. You might even try adding a little dish soap to encourage runny paint to strech across the cylinders like mine did above.

Feel free to offer just a single color of paint with a few different objects to stamp. Limiting the color options will help keep the emphasis on exploring the shapes and the action of stamping. Treat his activity as an experiment and there is no way you can get it wrong!

If you like the idea of exploring circles and dots, you might also like to see all the activities we offered in the Art Studio to celebrate International Dot Day 2014!

Making Art with Children is generously sponsored by the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.



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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