We had a flood of attendees to yesterday’s Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group, many of whom were surprised and delighted by our activity for the day. Armed with contact paper, cardboard frames, and colorful squares of tissue paper, our little artists created beautiful pseudo-stained glass portraits. Held up against natural or artificial light, these portraits become beautiful prisms. The perfect thing to brighten up a room even on the grayest January day.
Assembling what you need for your kids to do this at home is easy. Contact paper and tissue paper are the only necessities. Frames make a nice way to contain the portrait, but another simple way to keep the work intact is start out with an extra-large piece of contact paper and then, upon completion, simply fold it so that only the non-sticky side is exposed. You can even cut the finished work into a size that will fit into an empty frame or cut into a fun shape of your child’s choosing.
The more contact paper surface that is covered with tissue paper, the brighter the “stained glass” will be, but a few blank gaps to let in the light also work nicely. Very young children can make a random collage of colors while older children can consider using the tissue paper pieces to form patterns and images. Help your children if needed, but allow them to follow their own creative impulses.
This activity offers a large amount of learning opportunities. With very young children, focus on the tactile input and color learning of the activity. Have them feel the sticky contact paper first, then feel the smooth side. Contrast this with how the tissue paper feels. Show them how the light comes through the contact paper without the additional tissue.
While they’re applying the tissue paper, ask them to name the colors of the pieces they’re using. When they’re done, have them hold up the portrait to the light, then ask if they notice a difference in the colors – Are they darker? Are they brighter? Does the portrait change the way the light looks?
The activity is also a great low-mess craft, so bring it out on days when you don’t feel like washing paint brushes or cleaning off tables. If tissue paper pieces fall to the ground, use scraps of contact paper to easily pick them up.
Toddlers, Twos and Threes Art Group meets every Wednesday at 10 am and is open to all members and visitors (with paid admission to PTLL’s playspace). The group is run by Megan Spak and Elisabeth Moyer, with assistance by Emily Fear.