Hello string and straw paintings!

art class camp and parties for children morris county njPainting with strings and straws is a great way for students to experience process-oriented art and creating with non-typical tools. The children enjoy seeing how the paintings evolve with each step; the looks of pride they have with their completed artworks says it all!

Click here for a PDF to download or print of Hello string and straw paintings

Age Level: 4-6


  • Following multi-step directions
  • Expanding childrenʼs ideas of how and what you can use to create art
  • Learning about symmetry


  • Tempera paint
  • String
  • Straws
  • Thick White Paper (doesnʼt have to be watercolor paper, but thicker than construction paper )
  • Large wooden craft sticks
  • Small condiment containers with lids for paint
  • trays to organize materialskids art project

Teacher Preparation:

  • Cut string into approximately 2 foot lengths and arrange on a tray (one per child, plus a few extras just in case)
  • Prepare 2 sets of tempera paint in cups. We used red and blue, and had one per child for the blue and one per every 2 kids for the red.  We also watered down the red to make it thinner and easier for the kids to blow with the straws. (Placing lids on the containers keeps the paint from drying out so we can prepare ahead of time. We also reuse the paint containers if they havenʼt gotten too messy by snapping a lid on them for later use.)
  • Fold paper in half, one per child
  • Write each childʼs name on a label to put onto their artwork laterbest art class new jersey


Tell the children that today they will be creating a painting, but they wonʼt be using, brushes, or their fingers, or their feet, or anything that they have used in class before. What will they be using? Two things that they may have used in other ways, but today are using to make art. If you open your mind to new ideas, you might come up with a way to create art out of almost anything.

Todayʼs paintings will be made by using two different materials. The first is string.the messy artist

Show the children how they will be holding the string in one hand and then dipping the other end into the cup of paint. Using the craft stick, they will push the string into the paint until all except for about a 6 inch tail is covered in paint.nj art parties for kids

Then they will take it out, place it on one side of their paper, leaving the unpainted tail sticking out over the edge. Next theyʼll fold the paper in half and rub it. What do you think will happen? (see what they predict) Open the folded paper up to reveal the design the string has made. By folding and rubbing the paper they have created a symmetrical painting.art project lesson plan

Have the kids move all their chairs back and away from the work table before sending them to the supply table to pick out a piece of string and a craft stick. It is easier for them to push all the string into the paint if they are standing. While they are getting their supplies from the table, pass out the cups with the first color of paint, one to each child.

Once they have covered their strings in paint, give them a piece of paper. Make sure the strings are really covered in paint so that they will get a good transfer.best fine art class for children new jersey art studio for kids new jersey

Have a tray or paper plates out on the table so that the children can easily discard the paint covered strings.best fine art class for kids new jersey

Next, the instructor will demonstrate the second part of the project – painting with straws. To do this, dip the straw into the new color of paint, and then tap it onto the paper. Blow through the straw to disperse the paint drops. The papers can then again be folded and rubbed to create symmetry if the students wish.

Before the students start with this step, we like to make sure that all students know how to blow through the straws (we donʼt want anyone sucking up any paint). We pass out all the straws (or have them get them from the supply table) and have them practice blowing through them before handing out any paint.birthday party art new jersey

We encourage the children to use lots of drips of paint to create a layered painting, and they enjoy doing so. This project is always a messy favorite in our studios!art class toddlers nj new jersey art camp summer art camp new jersey

hello stampers!

art project for kidsStamping, part of the printmaking family, always fascinates children. There’s something magical and mysterious about the process, never being sure of the result until the stamp is lifted. Moving beyond the simple rubber stamps and inkpads students may have experienced before to new materials opens a world of opportunities for them to explore.

Tip – it is always best to use a very thin layer of paint for dipping the stamper in. Too thick a layer will gum up the stamper and make a muddy/blurry print. This is true for all stamping, no matter the type of stamper being used.

Texture stamping.  For our youngest stampers, we’ve found these great stampers that allow children to have fun with the unpredictable and satisfying effects of printmaking, as well as introduce the idea of texture.

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Each child selects one stamper from our “supply table” and then stamps with it.   After a few minutes, we have them trade with their neighbor to try another design. While they are stamping, we discuss the shapes made by the different textures on the stamps.the messy artistApple stamping. We do this in the fall, when apples are in season.

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There are a few ways for the kids to hold onto the apples and dip them into paint, but we’ve found that cutting notches into the back of the apples is the best.the messy artist fine art classes for kids apple stamping

Other ways are to just leave them in complete halves, or use forks.

best party for kids njWhen preparing the apples for stamping, cut some in half horizontally and some vertically so that there are different shapes. A horizontal cut makes a rounder shape, with a star design in the center from the seed holes. Vertical is a more oblong shape, and is hit or miss with any seed hole shapes.kids art studio new jerseyKids love to create with any type of food!

Create your own stamper. For kids K and up, this is a great multi-step project. They get to create their own stamper and then stamp with it.

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The stampers are made from a few layers of cardboard, wrapped in rubber bands.stamping projects for kids

As with all of our stamping, we like to use paper plates for the dipping paint. It’s easy to create thin layers of paint on them, and the cleanup is simple. We also like to use a few different coordinating colors on these plates, so the children get to see color mixing in action as they print.kids stamping project

hello beading!

the messy artist art studio for kidsBeading is a great project to do when you want to limit the mess and/or have a project that can go home with the students at the end of a single class period. We often do this as a first or last project of a session. Itʼs a favorite first project so that the kids can take something home from their very initial class and show it off. Oftentimes our projects need to dry or are multi-step artworks that donʼt come home for a few weeks.

In our programs, we like to figure out ways for our students to have unique opportunities, and in this case, it’s doing beading with 2 year olds. We make it age appropriate for this young age group by using pipe cleaners and really large beads.  The stiff yet bendable pipe cleaners and large foam beads and buttons make it much easier for little hands to be successful at  beading.

beads for 2 year olds

kids beading projectAge Level: 2 – 5 years


  • Eye hand coordination
  • Following directions


  • Pipe cleaners
  • Beads of different shapes and sizes, buttons, cut straws, pasta, bells – anything with holes
  • Stickers for name tags
  • Containers for the beads

Teacher Preparation:

  • Twist one bead onto the end of pipe cleaners (figure 2 per child, depending on classtime) to keep beads on pipe cleaner.
  • Write each studentʼs name onto a label.
  • Place sorted beads into containers for children to access – we usually do one container per every two students.

process oriented art for kidsProcedures:

Demonstrate for the students how they will be beading today. Show them how they will fit the bead over the pipe cleaner and push it down to the end. They can choose any colors or materials they like, and even make a pattern (repeating objects) if they wish. They should leave room at the end so it can be twisted together so the beads wonʼt fall off.

art lesson plan for kidsWe lay out the prepared pipe cleaners on our supply table so the children can walk over and select their own. As they are doing this, we place the containers with the beads on the tables.

As the children are beading, we also offer tips to the parents. Although it’s often the parents’ inclination to hold the pipe cleaner for their children,  we advise them not to.  It’s actually harder to bead if someone else is holding the pipe cleaner: eye-hand coordination is thrown off if someone else’s hands are in the mix!  We also advise the parents to encourage the children to hold the pipe cleaner near the top.  Everyone’s always surprised to see how well their 2 year old does when they follow these suggestions.

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When the children finish, twist the ends together so it makes a bracelet. Put their name tag sticker onto it if they choose not to wear it as a bracelet, or are moving onto other activities in the class.art party kids new jerseymessy art and play

hello winter trees resist project!

toddler art class north jerseyOur Storybook Art class combines two favorites activities: reading and making art. Each week we read a new children’s book and create art inspired by the story and its artwork. We savor the words and analyze the illustrations in each book, enjoying them completely at the start of each class.

We focus on books that have a particular relevance to the season or some other aspect of an event currently occurring in the children’s lives. In our long and snowy winter, we read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. This gorgeous and evocative book called for a special winter-themed project.imgres

We found it in a project on a website we admire: Art Projects for Kids, run by Kathy Barbro. This Winter Birch Trees Project is a watercolor tape resist project that results in multi-textured and layered artworks. And wow, did these ever turn out great!winter themed kids art projectprocess art for kids

One of our head teachers, Fran, did this in her classes one week and adapted it slightly for her sessions. Here is what she had to say:

I followed the main ideas of the project, but did a few things a little differently:

  1. When we taped the borders of the paper, we actually taped them down to the table. This helped by keeping their projects in place while they were taping their trees, etc.best art class kids north nj
  2. We tore the tape to create the trees (this gave them a more natural look); though a couple of the younger kids cut the tape because they had too much trouble tearing.
  3. Everyone cut the moon out.  Since it was too difficult to cut the tape into moon shapes (it kept sticking to itself), we first stuck tape onto contact paper.  Then we cut the moon shape from that, and the slick surface of the contact paper allowed us to peel the tape from it and then stick it on the paper.
  4. We used pure liquid watercolor paint (not watered down) to paint the whole thing – to achieve a dark night time look.the messy artist fine art classes
  5. We sprinkled the sea salt, to change the texture and create “sparkling stars” in their night skies.
  6. We blow-dried them so we could finish it in one class period (the paintings need to be dry before you can peel off the tape).art class camp party new jersey
  7. We splatter painted the snowflakes at the end: the kids used slightly watered down white acrylic paint, and while holding their brushes above their pictures tapped the brushes against their free hand to put some snowflakes into their pictures.process oriented art for children

This was a really great project to teach, and for the kids to experience. I particularly loved that it involved using several different watercolor techniques, all very achievable even for my youngest students, giving a great finished painting for each and every student. It was also an opportunity to talk about positive and negative space.resist painting for kids

While we were working it was wonderful hearing their excitement and exclaim, “Wow, look at this”, “Oh, look at my trees!”‘ “Oh cool!”, while they were peeling off the tape for the big reveal!nj art studio for children art studio for kids nj art from childrens books