Colorful Sponge Printing

Learning Areas:

  • Art
  • Movement (Fine Motor)
  • Science


What is this activity?

ECSEL Standards

What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?


What do you need to prepare for this activity?

Group of infants. Five mixed race baby boy toddlers having fun together sitting on the floor. Flat style vector illustration isolated on white background.


Step by step guide

ECSEL Prompts

What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?

Extended Learning

How can you extend children’s thinking?


Explore color mixing and making prints in creative ways with this fun sensory art project!

ECSEL Standards & Learning Goals

What skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?

Emotional Identification

Children will begin to be able to recognize the four basic emotions (happy, sad, angry, and scared) when teachers point out facial cues related to these emotions as they arise during the activity.

Emotional Understanding

Children will begin to be able to understand that we all experience different emotions with support and modeling from teachers.

Cause & Effect

Children will begin to be able to make the connection between emotions, their related facial cues, and simple causes related to this art activity with modeling and support from teachers.

Empathy & Prosocial Skills

Children will be able to practice sharing materials to the best of their ability with support from teachers during this activity.

Problem Solving

Children will be able to use problem solving skills to make different colored prints with sponges on paper.

CASEL Standards

Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision Making


  • Paper for each child
  • Body-safe, washable paint (in different colors)
  • Sponges for each color of paint
  • Paper plates or art trays
  • Clothespins (optional)
  • Plastic bibs
  • Butcher block paper (to cover tables)
  • Tape


  1. To prepare for this activity, cover your table (or floor area) with butcher block paper and secure it with tape, then set out a piece of paper for each child on top. Pour the paint out on paper plates (one color per plate), and set up the sponges next to the plates for children to use. You may also choose to clip clothespins onto the sponges for children to practice gripping, or for children who may not like the feel of the paint and sponge on their skin (but this is optional). Make sure all the materials are easily accessible to children.
  2. Help children get bibs on and invite them to begin exploring with the sponges and paint on the paper.
  3. Model making a print on the paper with a sponge if needed, and allow children to freely explore the materials to create their own sponge-print art.
  4. Acknowledge any emotions you observe as they arise during the activity by pointing out children’s facial expressions, and encourage sharing paint and sponges throughout the activity (see ECSEL Prompts for specific examples).
  5. Teachers can support children’s exploration and connection to different shapes and colors by verbalizing what you observe as children create prints with the sponges. For example, “Look at the blue square print you made with your sponge! A square has four equal sides: 1, 2, 3, 4!”

ECSEL Prompts

ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children’s thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.

I can see tears in your eyes and a frown on your face. Are you feeling sad?

Some friends are smiling and happy because they like the paint, and some friends are crying because they don’t like how the paint feels. We all have different feelings!

What happens when you dip the sponge in paint, and then put the sponge on the paper? (problem solving)

Let’s share the red paint with our friends! We can pass them the plate so they can use the paint too.

I saw you smile when you put the sponge on the paper and made a print! Does printing make you feel happy? It makes me feel happy too!

Extended Learning

Use these questions & ideas to extend children’s learning!

Children may naturally want to explore the paint with their hands and fingers instead of sponges. This is okay! Encourage this by prompting children to mix colors together with their hands on paper instead, or asking them what would happen if they put their painted hands on the paper and lifted them up.

You can periodically prompt children to mix the paint together or make sponge prints overlap on the paper to create new colors and designs. Model what this looks like to prompt creative thinking and independent exploration.

Add a math focus by identifying the shapes you notice as children create prints on their paper. Count the sides of the shapes out loud with the children to encourage one-to-one correspondence!

Infant – Colorful Sponge Printing

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