Printmaking with Markers

Last year, I introduced printmaking with my first grade classes. We used Speedball printing ink and brayers to make cards.  This year, I continued to do printmaking with them as second graders.  For the first project, we made cards for parents using scratchfoam. I wanted to play around with Gelli plates, but didn’t have the resources. Then, as a stroke of luck, I found a box of washable Crayola markers and remembered a post I saved on Pinterest.  This is a super easy, and cheap, way to do printmaking in your classroom.

Cut the scratchfoam pieces into smaller squares.  I chose 3″ squares to start.


Draw a very simple design into the foam with a pen or pencil.  Take a wet sponge and wet the paper you want to print on.  I started with cheap drawing paper, but the results were very blah so I switched to watercolor paper.  You do need to add more water, but the results are better.  Keep the sponge on the paper until you are ready to print.




When you are ready, remove the sponge and place your scratchfoam on the paper.  Massage all areas, especially the corners to an even print.  Carefully remove the foam and you should have a print.

The cool thing for me is that this teaches the students they have to be focused and they have to work quickly.  Not a lot of talking or socializing here.  I have very chatty classes, which is fine because they are second language learners and they need to practice speaking; however, I am also a person who can’t concentrate with a lot of noise and think art time should be a quiet time.

The results came out very mixed.  Here are some points we learned:

You need to figure out how much water works on the paper.  Too much and it is a runny mess, not enough and the ink will not transfer.

Make sure to tell students not to wet the scratchfoam.  They do this to clean it or they think it will make the ink transfer.  No.

Here are some of the results and their reflections on the project.

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As a final step, I had students trace their work with Sharpie pens.  I really like the details they added.

The last thing I learned is that you do not need washable markers for this project.  I made a mistake and had students use regular markers during one class.  They worked, so really, anyone can do this in their rooms.

Happy printing!


Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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