Using stamp pads is an easy, (sort of) mess-free activity that children of all ages can do. But how much sensory stimulation do kids get from sticking a generic rubber heart shape in an ink pad and smashing it on a paper a few times? Not much. Here are 12 cheap and easy ways to pump-up your regular old stamp pads- by using things from around the house, yard and classroom.
1. Bubble Wrap- a personal favorite. Bubble wrap makes great detailed textured prints using both the ‘bubble’ side and the ‘back’ side. It is easy to manipulate, easy to wash, most often free and fun to pop when you finish stamping 🙂 I recently had the kids use bubble wrap to make texture for an underwater scene and it came out perfect!
2. Corks- using both the round ends and rolling the cork on its side create fantastic texture. Corks are free (after you drink the wine!) and using them for stamping is a fun and easy way to recycle while making great, hands-on art.
3. Plastic animals- grab some plastic animals with different shaped foot prints and stamp away! The animals are super easy to wash, easy for small hands to hold and can be tied in to a lesson about nature, wildlife and animals.
4. Sponges- using dry sponges in ink pads is really easy, and a little less messy than using something like water colors or poster paint. Cutting the sponges into shapes is also fun, and using a sponge stamp print for a back ground on a larger progect is a great way to bring hands-on art into every project.
5. Tooth brushes- I know, crazy, right? But tooth brushes really make some very interesting patterns when using stamps. Using the bristle you can get some great grass or fabric texture, and some tooth brushes have ‘tongue scrapers’ on the back that create really nice stamp prints as well.
6. Leaves- real and artificial. The leaves shown are plastic and had some glitter on them (fancy, I know) so the stamp prints ended up with a little added sparkle. Real leaves make a wonderful nature stamping project, the children can collect leaves of different shapes and sizes and experiment with different printing techniques. A great (easy!!) way to bring nature into the classroom!
7. Rubber bands- another way to use something that is just laying around the home or classroom! Kids LOVE rubber bands, if there were three tables set up with various cool toys and art activities they would pick the manky rubber band that holds the easel together over all else. Why not have an activity that LETS them play with rubber bands? Here is one way to do that- it comes out looking pretty interesting!
8. Plastic forks- I discovered this one y accident, but it turned out to be a happy one! Using the back side of a fork to make a print turns out pretty interesting. I can see using this as grass for a garden scene, or teeth for a big monster. The opportunities are endless!
9. Toy cars&trucks- children LOVE playing with cars. Using a car with plastic wheels (easier to wash) and rolling it in a stamp then onto paper is a fun way to get kids who might not otherwise be interested in art to use their hands for a project. It is also fun to cover a table with butches paper and set our shallow trays of poster paint for kids to roll cars and trucks in, this way they can use a larger area and get more of a sensory rich experience from. Try it out!
10. Plastic reptiles- similar to using plastic animals to create fun tracks, using plastic reptiles is a great way to create texture with toys already in the classroom. The snake is definitely a new favorite of mine!
11. Buttons- take some old buttons and glue them onto a cork (so they are easier to hold). Buttons come in all different shapes and patterns and really make amazing stamps. Make sure to grab buttons that have a relatively flat surface or it will be challenging to stamp with them.
12. Textured home decor samples- another awesome way to use something free to make something fun! I used some plastic ‘bubble’ tile samples to make a stamp and came out with a nice delicate print. Great for adding texture to any project!
Take a look around the house, classroom, yard and see what other sorts of things might make a good stamp- again, the opportunities are endless!