Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Infants and Toddlers Painting Printmaking

Toddler Art Exploration: Printing Circles with Found Objects

Meghan Burch

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 stretch 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.


Meghan, smiling and wearing a grey shirt with a blue background.

Meghan Burch

Art Educator from 2003-2016, Meghan has a BFA in Illustration from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She tries to think with materials and work with her hands every day.