Chinese Character Printmaking Project

The earliest form of printmaking, woodblock printing, originated in China.

Since we’ve been learning about China, I thought printmaking would tie in nicely with learning about Chinese characters.

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We began by reading the book, In the Park by Huy Voun Lee.

The books by Huy Voun Lee are a wonderful introduction to Chinese characters for young children. The book has a mother teaching her son about different Chinese characters while showing him the pictures in the characters.

The book we read introduced 10 different characters, all related to nature. After reading the book, we chose one of the Chinese characters highlighted in the book for our printing project.

Supplies Needed:

Styrofoam tray (if using a meat tray, wash and disinfect before using)
Pencil with a dull tip
Foam paint brush
White paper

Some of you may have noticed in the first picture that I made one big mistake while doing this project. I unfortunately didn’t have another Styrofoam tray to make a correct version for you. The first step in the process was where we made our mistake. I completely forgot that in printing we would be making a mirror image. Oops! We drew our characters as we saw them, but once they were printed, they were backwards! So, don’t do what we did!

Instead, use your dull pencil to draw a mirror image of your Chinese character. There are some Chinese characters that would look the same either way. Choose one of those characters to make the process simpler. Miss Preschool chose the character for soil, which worked either way. I tried a more complicated character, bird, which ended up backwards.

Once you have your character drawn, use your foam brush to coat the whole tray with paint. We used the foam brushes and got a more even coating. Try for a medium coat of paint, without any lumps.

Turn your tray over and gently press is onto your white paper. Try not to move it once you have it down. Press firmly and then lift up carefully.

Your finished product should look like the one above (except hopefully facing the correct direction). Have fun making your prints. I think a collection of these would be beautiful on the wall!

More printmaking projects:

Still Parenting has an amazing post where they did a printmaking project with yarn and string. I want to try this sometime!

Creating with stamps is an easy printmaking project that even young kids can do. Mama.Papa.Bubba shows you how to create your own simple block stamp.

This was not our first printmaking project. We also created beautiful cityscapes using stamps we made from craft foam and cardboard.

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her here writing about fun learning activities, art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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