Paper Plate Art

Paper plates – I wonder what the children will create with paper plates? I love open-ended art so children can just do. The goal is for the children have input and choice with very little structure.

Today there is a  toddler and a preschooler who are both thrilled to use the small paper plates. The oldest child notices there is a stack of plates, too! To keep the art child-directed, there is a variety of possibilities available for each child to choose from. There are crayons, markers, colored pencils, stickers, scissors, pipe cleaners, glue, tape, water colors, and a variety of other papers.

The preschool child first chooses to use the tape and cuts a word from another paper. After this she chooses to color with crayons. She colored on one plate and then got another plate. She used the tape and the 2 plates to make eyes.


Then with another 2 paper plates she used markers and scissors to create 2 faces. Notice the partial plate glued on top. She put a smaller hole in the plate and used pipe cleaners to create a “necklace”.



Before she finished, she used the water colors to paint the plates. Every plate was unique. She had reasons which she happily expressed as to why each was painted its own unique way.




The toddler chooses two plates imitating his preschool age sister. He chooses a homemade melted round crayon to use first to color his plate.


When he finishes coloring a paper plate,  he makes sure it is included in the photos. He holds it up for the picture and waits until the photo is taken.  :0)


This toddler chooses to use water colors next. Notice that he paints in straight lines and strokes that move from one side of the paper plate to the other. He paints several plates and uses the same pattern.

As he paints, he uses vocabulary to describe what he does (with the adult’s help), sentences for language development, answers questions about colors he chooses, fine motor development holding & moving the brush and the other hand consistently holds onto and edge, and sensory (smell and touch). As he finishes, he puts one hand on a plate that is pretty wet with paint, then puts it on another plate without any paint. He does this several times noticing what his hand print looks like each time and comments on it.



A few if my observations of this child directed art work is the children’s work is creative, inventive, and unique. Each of their work comes from within them and their life experiences. It involves self-expression, is process oriented, and fosters autonomy.

Best of all, each child is pleased with what they do.  What else could I ask for!



About admin

I'm Cathie. Welcome to my little early childhood corner! I have been involved with young children and their teachers for over 20 years: teaching, supervising, training, presenting, serving on state and community boards and councils. I love sharing quality early childhood ideas that are engaging! Thank you for joining me on this new adventure,
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