do it yourself: plastic bag prints
Explore the magic of printmaking with easy-to-find home materials. Make a one-of-a-kind work of art and have fun layering colors and marks using a plastic Ziploc sandwich bag, food coloring and your imagination!
guidelines + materials
AGE: 4+ (with adult support)
TIME FRAME: 30 minutes
- Box of Food Coloring (or any paints)
- Ziploc Sandwich Bag
- 5 – 6 Sheets Printer Paper (or other drawing paper)
- Pair of Scissors
- Small Paint Brush or Popsicle Stick
- Baby Wipes
1. Ready your paper. Get your printing papers ready by first making them square-shaped. Take one corner of a sheet of standard printing paper and fold it down to make a triangle shape. Cut along the line where the papers meets. Your paper should now look like a triangle. Open up your triangle to make a square and use this square as a pattern for trimming down your other papers. Cut 5 to 6 square sheets for printing!
2. Set up your print station. Set up your print station by laying out your materials. Place the Ziploc bag (your printing plate) flat on the table. Pull out the food coloring bottles and place them nearby on a paper plate (mixing palette) along with your brush or popsicle stick. Set one sheet of cut paper next to the Ziploc bag. You’re ready to go!
3. Create a layer. Pour a small amount of food coloring onto your plate and then dip your paintbrush or the tip of your popsicle stick into it. Draw or paint shapes and marks directly on top of the Ziploc bag. Once ready, carefully turn the bag over (painted side down) and place it on the paper. Gently pat the top of the bag all over the painted area. Lift the bag and watch as your entire design transfers onto the paper from the bag. You’ve just made a print! Clean the bag off with a baby wipe and try it again!
4. Dream up your design. Now that you know the process for printing with a Ziploc bag, you can play! Add more and more layers of shape and color onto your paper, mix colors and experiment with making different marks with your brush or popsicle stick. You can create a picture of something recognizable or just have fun layering different shapes and marks together.
5. Enhance your image! After you finish adding all of your layers, you can use a black pen or other drawing material (whatever you have) to enhance your picture and add fun details.
Additional Learning Activities (Grades K – 2)
This type of art making is a great outlet for sharing how you’re feeling and showing it with the color choices and marks that you make. Have your child explore using colors and marks that connect with their feelings. What might calm look like? How about nervous? Excited? Encourage your child to share their choices and to talk about their work with you.
What’s going on in this picture?
Visual Thinking Strategies is a group method for looking at works of art and exploring their meanings together. This method does not try to provide any more information than what the viewers observe. Participants can look at any work of art and ask, “what do I see?” and “what makes me say that?” Engage your child in a VTS conversation while looking at their piece and/or any image that you have available.
Select a Story!
Reading is a wonderful vehicle for learning and for introducing new ideas to learners. Select engaging and age-appropriate books that feature expressive art and open-ended art making to read to your child before and/or after the Plastic Bag Print activity.
Recommended Related Reading (Ages 4 – 8):
- Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
- Let’s Paint by Gabriel Alborozo
- Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Compoy and Theresa Howell and illustrated by Rafael López
CA Arts Standards for Visual Art (Grades K – 2)
- Interpret art by identifying and describing subject matter.
- Engage in exploration and imaginative play with various art materials.
- Interpret art by identifying subject matter and describing relevant details.
- Interpret art by categorizing subject matter and identifying the mood and characteristics of form.
- Explore the uses of materials and tools to create works of art or design.
- Experiment with various materials and tools to explore personal interests in a work of art or design.