How To Make Handprint Animal Art

Whether it’s sewing, painting or woodworking, I love getting my kids involved crafting with me! From my experience, young kids are always available and willing to do projects together and love it when the craft reflects their current interests. When I saw animal inspired handprint art for sale at the zoo, I knew this was a project we could do at home for free! It is a quick, albeit sort of messy project that will have your kids expressing their creative selves and leave you with a project worth saving in your treasure box!

You can get creative and probably make a cute version of any animal under the sun! Below are the steps to getting prepared for and making animal handprint art with kids. You can use these same steps to create any animal, and use these photos for inspiration!
Supplies Needed:
Acrylic paint, main and accent colors
Thick paper if possible- cardstock, watercolor paper etc
Paper plates 
paintbrush
Black Sharpie
Quick access to a sink for hand washing
Baby wipes (optional)
Qtips and/or toothpicks (optional)
Painting smocks (optional)
Kid hands, of course!

Here is the process:
1. Tell your kids what to expect. When working with paint, I like to set the ground rules first and explain the process so the children know what’s coming!

2. Show them an example picture, so everyone can get the goal in their head.

3. Prepare your paper- think about what you’ll use this art for. Is it cut to an appropriate size to hang and display? Do you want it foldable so you can send it in the mail? Think through the size and weight of paper you want to use!

4. I laid out stations for each child, with paper, plates and paint, brushes, and a sticky note on each paper labeling which animal this is for. When doing multiple animals at a time, it was helpful for all of us to remember which animal was for which color and hand placement. 
5. Choose your colors and apply with a paintbrush to the child’s hand. Be careful not to use too much paint so it doesn’t squeeze out and ruin the effect.
6. Plant their hand firmly in the desired location, and push it down into the paper all over. You can touch up any missed spots with a brush at this point if you want! I do however, love the charm that imperfection adds!

7. Wash or wipe hand, and reapply a new color for a different animal. Complete the base colors for each animal first, so they have time to dry before going in and adding details after.
8. Now get out your accent colors and using fingerprints, Qtips, toothpicks or paintbrushes (or anything else you feel inspired to use!), add accents to the animal handprint bases you’ve already made. I found that layering two shades of a color for accents really elevates the picture. You can see the two shades of green grass in the cheetah image as an example.

9. Move to a new location to let dry! When crafting with kids, it’s easy to get an elbow across a finished project. So, once an animal is complete I moved it to the kitchen counter to dry safely.

10. Finally, to help your kids feel like real artists, use a fine point sharpie and have them sign their initials. So fun!
The ultimate question: What to do with kid art projects once completed? We are sending our handprint animal art to grandparents, putting some up in the kids’ rooms, and using them as notecards for pen pals.
Let me know in the comments if you try this out and what animals you come up with!

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