Before I left on maternity leave I had a really great time printmaking with fourth graders. We were wrapping up our art and culture discovery unit by exploring the process of gyotaku. (Click HERE for a pinterest board full of art and culture from Asia, including some great gyotaku resources). Kids loved learning about the process, and it lead to a great discussion on printmaking.
Our project that resulted from our discussion was a basic relief print using good ol' styrofoam. This group of fourth graders had not experienced printmaking in any form before so I wanted an easy to use, guarenteed success material but a more sophisticated result, so I pushed the engraving and etching examples and held high expectations for lots of fine detail.
As part of their science unit, students were raising bass fish in their class. We tied that in to our project by choosing a species of fish to illustrate as realistically as possible. Students blew me away with their patience and skill. Looking at library books, internet resources, and old engravings like the one to the right, students used basic contour line and shape to illustrate their specimen.
I put together the above short stop motion video to demo the process of printmaking. I did this to cut down on time and the supplies used when demo-ing. It was nice to be able to pause the video and discuss or go back and review steps in the process, plus kids loved the wow factor at the end when the print is revealed … which is, let's be honest, the best part.
When it was time for kids to grab the brayers and ink I set up three tables to print at and three tables to remain "ink free" for those kids that were still finishing up their plates.
This worked well, the mess was contained as much as it could be and there were clean places to be for before and after you were printing. Kids worked in pairs to fetch more paper and ink for one another as well as cheer one another on as a clear print was revealed from the pull back.