Beach Bums

Talk about a low-budget beach vacation on less than a tank of gas, how about these student art works? Got it in my head that it was time to use up some very old and faded construction paper, odd-sized cut pieces of paper, stubby crayons, and past-their-prime markers. As these things happen, I'd also saved up just enough styrofoam meat trays to do some print-making when I received a big bag of heavily-scented seashells meant for a bathroom potpourri.

Student, age 3

In the first class session we made crayon texture rubbings of the flattest shells. We looked at shells to find spirals, and drew white crayon spirals. Then we imagined the waves coming onto the sandy beach and receding, using arm movements, inhaling, and exhaling. We talked about the gentle curves of waves, and drew them with the old markers, then traced them with wet paintbrushes. Last, we used some diluted blue glitter paint over our crayon rubbings and spirals.

Student, age 5

In the second class session we used some foam paint stamps of sea creatures, and cut a bit of seaweed. We drew some fish, too.

Older kids observed and drew seashells with pencil, and then drew into the styrofoam pieces. We made marker prints by coloring the styrofoam with washable markers, then printing them onto damp construction paper.

I always love styrofoam marker print projects because almost all kids can use the same technique with materials they have at home. For the seashell project, it gets even better when we start using the styrofoam plates with washable white printing ink. The ink picks up the traces of marker colors left on the styrofoam, and gives the prints a perfect shell quality and color. And the final addition to the art work is gluing the styrofoam print plate onto the paper.

Styrofoam plate, lower left. Marker print, upper right. Student, age 6

That's the closest I'll get to a barefoot walk down the beach this summer, but it was very relaxing and successful.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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