This activity has it all. Its interactive, as kids will search for their own materials to make the brushes. It engages them in a way that is immediate and very freeing and it encourages them to be curious about all kinds of mark-marking. Here’s what you’ll need:
Some long-ish sticksfrom the forest/park
roll of paper, any color
ink or acrylic paint
small buckets/bowls for the paint
a large open space, preferably outside
If inside, tape down your paper, kids should be able to paint from all sides. If outside, weight your paper down with small stones on the corners.
Gather some long,straight sticks and put them in a pile. Together, search the outdoors for natural elements that you could tie to the end of your sticks that you think might make an interesting mark- pick things that leave wispy, feathery marks and things that will leave more blobby, thing-like marks. Some things we tried were: feathers, berries (still attached to their branch), pine tips, small bouquets of flowers,etc. Cut yourself a length of string that will allow you to wrap it around the stick quite a few times. As you are wrapping it, keep some tension as you want to give it them as sturdy a base as you can. If its a bunch of things, like berries or flowers, try to thread your string through a few times to give it more even stability. Tie a knot and the brushes are ready.
Between 1-3 pots of color is enough to work with-try to encourage painters mot to double-dip colorsas this makes the colors muddy faster. Other than that-let them go for it.
Note: The only real drawback to doing this inside is how much kids love to splatter with their brushes so…just something to keep in mind.