Printmaking with first grade—for some, that might sound like a scary idea. I’ve had a real passion for printmaking since college and have tried to pass that passion on to my students. I know it may seem daunting to try a messy media with a group of young students, but trust me when I say it can be done quickly and easily.
Inspiration from Andy Warhol
The inspiration for this lesson is Andy Warhol’s flower prints. When I first saw these displayed in a museum, I noticed that, unlike the more famous Warhol prints, they didn’t show any product or celebrity, so I felt they would be easier for my young learners to connect to. I was also inspired by the bold colors of these prints.
In the art room, I introduced students to Warhol via a finger puppet that sat on my shoulder. I shared some facts about him, then we looked at images of his flower prints. Students investigated two prints that had different colors and compared and contrasted them. I asked students to name the elements of art they saw in the works because I wanted them to start thinking about colors and shapes for their own prints.
Creating the Stamp
After our discussion, students used a paper towel or toilet paper tube to make a printing stamp. They drew vertical parallel lines around one end of the roll about 1½ to 2" (4 to 5 cm) long. They cut along the lines and gently peeled them back, like peeling a banana. Students then bent the ends of the tube outward to create a simple flower shape to use as a stamp.
Cardboard Petal Printing
Holding the paper tube from the other end, students dipped their cardboard petal stamp into bright tempera paint and created a print on colored construction paper. I distributed at least two different colors of paint per table and provided a variety of different colored papers. I asked students to make seven to ten prints each and told them to write their name on every sheet of paper before printing. When students were finished, they threw away their cardboard tubes and cleaned their tables.
When the prints were dry, students received their prints and cut out the flowers of their choice. I encouraged them to pick their favorites and embellish them with oil pastels.
Finally, I passed out black and white paper. Students glued their flowers on the paper and used oil pastels in bright colors to further embellish the prints.
Before or after the printmaking activity, show the video “Who Is Andy Warhol?” from Tate Kids Online (see Resource), or read the books Uncle Andy’s (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2003) by James Warhola (Warhol’s nephew) and Dropping In on Andy Warhol (Crystal Productions, 2006) by Pamela Geiger Stephens and Jim McNeill. Then give yourself a pat on the back—you’ve introduced printmaking to first grade!
paper towel or toilet paper tubes
tempera paint in bright colors
small squares of colored construction paper
full sheets of black and white construction paper
Art teachers spark curiosity through lessons that encourage material exploration, play, and reflection. Young students create flower petal prints inspired by Andy Warhol, elementary students collaborate to tell stories through installation and photography, middle-school students reconsider material choices and embrace a curriculum that encourages play, high-school students create reflective artworks based on visual journaling exercises, and more.