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Sponge painting is one of the best ways to offer preschoolers the chance to express themselves with paint. Rather than using paintbrushes or their fingers, preschoolers enjoy the variety of dipping sponge shapes into paint and applying it to their papers. Because the sponges are easy to grasp, it is especially good for younger students who are still learning how to properly hold other instruments and works on pinching as the students pinch the sponge to lift it from the paper. It is also fun for students with excellent fine motor skills as sponge painting offers a different tactile experience and creates unusual shapes and images on their painting papers.
Preschool sponge painting activities can be chosen to reinforce basic shapes such as circles, squares, triangles and rectangles and even letters and numbers. They can also be used to teach primary colors, color wheel concepts and blending. It is a fun, hands-on way to teach these concepts directly and reinforce them within curriculum units on other subjects.
Sponge paint sets may be found at teacher supply stores, large discount retailers such as Walmart or Target, and art supply stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby. They can often be found in a variety of shapes and sizes with different themes. With a little creativity, sets can also be homemade from standard kitchen sponges. Sponges can be easily cut with scissors into the shapes needed for a specific project. This is especially useful and economical if every student needs the same sponge shape. For large shapes use a sponge that cleans a car.
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A Sponge for Every Season
Painting with sponges can be easily adapted for nearly every type of preschool curriculum unit, but they are especially fun for seasonal projects. Here are some cute activities across the seasons:
Sponge Leaves - Use leaf shaped sponges dipped in brown, orange, red or yellow paint for a leaf project.
Sponge Apples -- Use apple shaped sponges against a green background for a tree. Larger sponge apples could be used for an apple tree wall decoration.
Sponge Pumpkins -- Orange pumpkins can be sponge painted onto brown paper to show a pumpkin patch or onto a paper plate. Once the paint has dried, sponge shapes (black-triangles) to make the faces of a jack-o-lantern. This project may take two days.
Sponge Ornaments -- Round sponge shapes and candy cane shapes are used to add ornaments to a large or small green paper Christmas tree.
Sponge Snowflakes -- Sponge snowflakes should be done with white paint on dark blue paper
Sponge Snowmen -- Snowmen bodies should be made of three circle sponge shapes of differing sizes.
Sponge Hearts -- A variety of different sized heart shaped sponges are used at Valentine's Day for sponge painting pictures or cards.
Sponge Clovers -- Green paint and sponges shaped like clovers are used for St. Patrick's Day. When sponged around the edge of a large circle, they make a great wreath.
Sponge Eggs -- Large white card stock eggs are decorated with sponge painting to look like Easter eggs- don't forget the basket!
Sponge Flowers -- Sponge painting is combined with regular painting to make summer pictures of flowers growing or the sun shining.
Sponge Stars -- Small white stars are sponged onto a flag painting that was previously painted with a blue rectangle and red and white stripes.
For many of these projects teachers can have their students go back and decorate their sponge art with detail using markers, sequins, or other craft materials, once the shape has dried.
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Whether the unit is on rockets, animals, or things you find in the city, incorporate preschool sponge painting activities into nearly every type of lesson, especially the seasonal ones. It is an excellent way to remind students of the basic shapes and colors in the world around them as well as an opportunity to work on those fine motor skills!
Warning! Sponge painting is considered messy play so be sure to have the smocks and the hand-soap readily available!
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Mix-It-Up Sponge Painting http://www.crayola.com/lesson-plans/detail/mix-it-up-sponge-painting-lesson-plan/
Mulder-Slater, Andrea. "Sponge Painting." http://www.kinderart.com/painting/sponge.shtml
Source Ideas: The author's personal experience with preschool classrooms and sponge painting.