Early Years Stencilling

A beautiful day today which meant the ladies at toddler group had us outside in the playground. The parish centre where we meet used to be the local school. It’s in a beautiful setting overlooking fields with Manchester hazy in the distance.

However, this throws up the challenge of how to keep paper on the table when there is a gust of wind. One I’ve not quite cracked yet – I’ll let you know when I do.

Printing with Stencils
This week’s activity was another printing project for the tots to try. Today I took along some of our transport and sea life plastic stencils for the children to dab their paint through.

Keeping it simple, we had the primary colours – red, yellow and blue – to work with. The ready mixed paint was squeezed onto sponges in bowls so the children didn’t overload their dabbing sponges.


Firstly, the children had to put on their aprons – always wear aprons when dealing with paint. Yes it is washable but it’s best not to get it on the clothes in the first place if it can be avoided. The next challenge was to keep the stencil in place while they dabbed. Mums and grans helped but in a setting you’ve not got the luxury of many pairs of hands so the children must learn to keep the stencil still with one hand whilst dabbing with the other.

One little girl was having a ball repeating over and over, ‘dab, dab,dab, dabbitty dab.’

A little boy was very specific about which colour he wanted with each stencil. Whilst one girl went for it with great gusto, mixing up the colours to make orange, purple and green.

One of the older girls very studiously made a ‘proper picture’ with a boat, sea and sunshine.

Painting with Water
Being outside gives the opportunity for water play. Oh yes they love it. I put out a couple of buckets with some paint brushes for the children to play with. One little boy carefully started to ‘paint’ one of the drain grids. Two other boys had great fun making water marks on the floor and playing their own little game.

You could leave a bucket of water out in the playground with a big brush in it for the children to ‘paint’ the walls. Plus, on a sunny day you can all watch as the marks fade away as the water evaporates giving you an opportunity to talk about where the water goes. Science and art – what a great combination!

Next week I’ll be doing the final printing activity in this series which is direct printing. We’ll be making the Father’s Day project that I came up with this year but after that I’ll be exploring art activities in the open.


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