There are two things kids love: being creative and getting messy! Art is a great mix of these two things, allowing children to express themselves while getting to explore all the bright, sticky fun of paint and clay. Art activities are especially good for afterschool programs; they offer students a creative break to be a bit silly while still learning and exploring.

Mary Ann F. Kohl’s Big Messy Art Book takes traditional school art activities and adds a fun twist. From painting without brushes to combining art and movement, the projects in this book provide the perfect balance of sensory exploration and silly fun. Here are a few art activities where that are bigger and bolder than your typical paint-and-paper project.

Snap Painting

Materials:

The Process:

  1. Stretch several rubber bands over the empty frame
  2. Place a sheet of paper on the table, then set the frame over the paper
  3. Paint the rubber bands carefully and completely with the foam brushes dipped in paint. Mixing colors is fine
  4. Grab a rubber band, stretch it upward, and then let go. It should snap against the paper and create a splatter design
  5. Snap any other rubber bands that still have paint on them
  6. Add more paint as necessary
  7. Remove the paper and start over with a new snap design. The rubber bands may need to be wiped clean with a wet sponge, though some artists like leftover paint to remain on the bands for special effects of mixing colors

Squeegee Scraping

Preparations:

  • Preparing the Squeegee:
    • Find squeegees for a shower, car windshield, or basic window
    • Use kitchen shears, scissors, or a sharp knife to cut the rubber edge of the squeegees in interesting patterns (fringe, waves, squared-off shapes, etc.)
    • Make sure the cuts in the rubber edge of the squeegee are fairly deep and spaced apart
  • Preparing the Puffy Paint:
    • Mix 4 cups of flour, 4 cups of water, and 4 cups of salt in a bowl
    • Separate the batter into separate batches, one for each color you want to use
    • Mix liquid tempera paint into the batter until it reaches the desired color

Materials:

  • Puffy paint
  • Spoon
  • Poster board
  • Pre-made squeegee scrapers

The Process:

  1. Drop big blobs of puff paint on the poster board
  2. Begin by finger painting on the poster board to spread out the paint
  3. Use the squeegee scrapers to drag designs and textures through the paint, adding dimension and interest
  4. Let the paint design dry on the poster board. It will dry hard, puffy, and sparkly from the salt

Body Part Prints

Materials:

The Process:

  1. Consider doing this project outside on a summer day with lots of water and towels for clean up and a change of clothes on hand. Wear old play clothes or old bathing suits. For indoor creating, cover the work area with plastic sheeting or newspapers
  2. To make the “stamp pad,” fold the old hand towels into thirds. Folded towels will be about 7” x 14” in three layers. Soak each towel with tempera paint and place in a shallow pan
  3. To make the body part prints, press a body part (fingers, hand, arm, foot, shin, cheek, etc.) on the pad and then on the paper. Make as many body prints as desired
  4. Set the paper aside, and allow the prints to dry while making additional ones

Rope Painting

Materials:

The Process:

  1. Place a large sheet of paper on the floor on top of newspapers or outside on the ground
  2. Fill dishpans with tempera paint to about 1” deep and place beside the paper. Use one dishpan for each color of paint
  3. Tie a loop handle in one end of each length of rope
  4. Place two or three ropes in each color of paint with handles hanging over the edges of the pans
  5. Pick up a rope by its handle, and then drag it across the paper, making paint designs where the rope touches
  6. Another idea is to fold the paper in half and then open. Arrange a paint-filled length of rope on the paper with the handle hanging off the paper. Fold the paper over the rope. Have several artists press their hands and arms over the folded paper to slightly hold back the rope, while another artist pulls the rope out of the folded paper. Unfold
  7. When satisfied with the design, set aside to dry in an out-of-the-way spot, and create more rope designs. Ropes can be rinsed, dried, and used again for art projects