How to Do Styrofoam Printing with Kids

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How to Do Styrofoam Printing with KidsMaia and I made some more Christmas cards together by printing with styrofoam — the first activity on our advent calendar.

This was our second attempt at styrofoam printing — this time we were much more successful! The materials make all the difference!

We used printing ink instead of tempera paint, a proper brayer instead of a paint roller, and thicker styrofoam (from a meat tray) instead of a thin styrofoam plate.

How to Do Styrofoam Printing with Kids



Printmaking Ideas for Kids - How to do Styrofoam Printing

1. Cut the thin paper to the same size as the styrofoam sheet you’ll print with.

2. Draw a picture on the thin paper first. This step is optional, but it means you can draw the a few different images before choosing which one you want to print. It also makes it easier for younger children to transfer their image to the styrofoam.

Maia made a couple of small drawings to use for her prints, a sun and a “Christmas octopus”.

3. Hold the drawing in place over the piece of styrofoam and trace the drawing with a pencil or (as in the photo above) with the pointy end of a paint brush or a chopstick or something. Press down firmly but evenly while tracing the image.

Printmaking Ideas for Kids - How to do Styrofoam Printing

4. Assemble your printmaking materials. the brayer, an acrylic box frame (same one we use for monoprinting — these are so useful!), two colors of block printing ink, our blank cards (watercolor paper folded over), a spoon, and Maia’s styrofoam drawings.


5. Squeeze some ink onto the plexi frame and spread it around with the brayer. Once the brayer is coated with an even layer of ink, roll it over your styrofoam drawing.

Printmaking Ideas for Kids - How to do Styrofoam Printing

6. Position the styrofoam on your paper or a blank card and use a spoon to rub over the paper to help transfer the design.

How to Do Styrofoam Printing with Kids

Let dry.


Et voila! Many styrofoam printed suns and Christmas octopuses (octopi?).

This was so gratifying and fun that I wish we had learned how to do styrofoam printing long ago! With the right materials.

Our brayer is an old that one my Grandma passed on to me, but you can buy them at art supply stores or on Amazon. Here’s a 4 inch hard rubber brayer. And here are the Speedball water-based block printing inks that we used.

More Ideas for Handmade Christmas Cards

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  1. says

    What a great idea! So fun, so rewarding, and … I must admit a few giggles about the Christmas Octopus. My two year old daughter just tried to draw an octopus tonight for our craft project…must be something about the season & the octopus of which I’m not aware. :)

  2. Kristin says

    I just did a project similar to this one with some friends last weekend. It is always so rewarding seeing all the prints pile up on the drying rack. Am very curious to try this with my two year old. I love your idea of drawing on paper first and then tracing the image onto the plate.

  3. says

    We tried this last night and it worked great! We asked the butcher for some new styrofoam meat trays and they were perfect for the project.

  4. Karen says

    Loving this site with all the ideas i can use for projects that i need to plan. Great work!

  5. Julie Laulett says

    This is one of my favorite crafts to do with preschoolers. It’s a fantastic open art project with little to no materials cost, perfect for the public library setting. You’ve done a great job of presenting and explaining it. The only thing I do differently is to have children draw their design directly onto the styrofoam, and the only difficulty is getting them to press hard enough to indent their design.

  6. says

    I am new to blogging and a new teacher. I had started a post with styrofoam printing, as I had done this in a Uni prac with Kindergarten children, and noticed your beautiful tutorial! Would you mind if I linked your tutorial to my post!