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How to Do Styrofoam Printing – A Printmaking Activity For Kids

styrofoam card printing

Maia 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 how to do 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.

Here’s a video showing Styrofoam Printing in action! And don’t forget to keep scrolling for step-by-step instructions on how to use this fun technique to make festive Christmas cards.

How To Do Styrofoam Printing With Kids

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  1. Cut paper

    To begin, cut the thin paper to be the same size as the styrofoam sheet you’ll print with.

  2. Draw design on paper

    Then, draw a picture on the thin paper first. This step is optional, but it means you can draw a few different designs 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. Trace drawing

    Hold the drawing in place over the piece of styrofoam and trace the drawing with a pencil. You can also use the pointy end of a paint brush, a chopstick or something similar. Press down firmly, but evenly while tracing the image. Drawing paper design on styrofoam.

  4. Assemble printmaking materials

    Gather together a brayer, an acrylic box frame (we use the same one for monoprinting — these are so useful!), two colors of block printing ink, blank cards (watercolor paper folded over), a spoon, and the styrofoam plates (drawings). Styrofoam printing supplies

  5. Ink the brayer

    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. Rolling ink with brayer for styrofoam printing.

  6. Print the design on paper

    Position the styrofoam on top of the paper or card and use a spoon to rub over the paper to help transfer the design. Printmaking supplies: brayer, ink, styrofoam printing plate and printed card.

  7. Let dry

    Either lay your prints out to dry, or hang them using clothespins like we did. how to do styrofoam printing

finished styrofoam printed cards

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 one that my Grandma passed on to me, but you can buy them at art supply stores or on Amazon.


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How to do Styrofoam printing
How to Do Styrofoam Printing – A Printmaking Activity For Kids


  • Reply
    Our Cozy Little Book and Art Corner
    December 3, 2009 at 9:27 am

    very cool! I need to check into getting printing supplies did you get it a craft supply store or art supply?

  • Reply
    December 3, 2009 at 11:59 am

    This is fantastic! What a great idea to use styrofoam. And the suns and octopuses are so fun.

  • Reply
    The Artful Parent
    December 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    One that sells both. If you had to choose, though, I’d look at the art supply store.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    These turned out so beautifully. I can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply
    Parents' ideas
    December 3, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    It’s so cool you tried styrofoam printing on the sheets of paper of different colour! The black one on green looks very interesting.

  • Reply
    Goddess Leonie
    December 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    oh this is completely glorious… i love this!

  • Reply
    December 3, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Hobby Lobby used to carry the ink and brayers (at least they did six months ago) in their art supply section.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Can it get any better than a Christmas octopus?! Those are so great. We did the same thing last year for our holiday cards and I have been saving meat trays in hopes of doing it again this year. Something so satisfying and fun about seeing the images emerge on each card. Here’s what ours looked like last year. We used acrylic paint so I will be eager to try block printing ink.

  • Reply
    December 3, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    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. :)

  • Reply
    December 4, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Fawn Pea
    December 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    A Christmas octopus! Just what I would hope to find in my stocking.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2009 at 11:25 am

    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.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2011 at 9:35 am

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

  • Reply
    Julie Laulett
    December 5, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Sue Stirling
    February 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    love it, love those plants!

  • Reply
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