Using common materials as an art surface, such as newspaper, provides rich opportunities to explore lots of different possibilities and results.

This Play Invitation offers children opportunities to explore painting while deepening concepts such as layers, contrast, transparency, and opacity, and offers a new idea for reusing common materials for art making.

What Could Lead Us to This Play Invitation

  • Children have been curious about painting on different surfaces beyond white paper;
  • Children have been interested in adding their marks to previously painted papers as a continuation of something that already exists;
  • Children are excited about reusing materials.

Materials Needed

  • Tempera paints
  • Newspapers
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • Tape (optional)

Setting up This Play Invitation

  1. Place the newspaper sheets on a flat, washable surface. You can attach the newspaper to the surface with tape, to keep it from moving while painting.
  2. Add the tempera paint and brushes to the work area. If using tempera cakes, add a jar with water.

    Tip: Check over the content of the newspaper pages before using, to make sure it is child-appropriate.

How to Create the Painting

  1. Have the children paint on top of the newspaper. They may notice the print, images, symbols, shapes, or anything else from the newspaper as they paint.
Child painting on newspaper

How to Nurture the Natural Unfolding of the Child’s Identity During This Play Invitation

  • Children have the right, in their productions, to use papers that already have marks – such as prints, textures, patterns, and drawings. This allows them to develop new creative dialogues with what already exists.
  • Children have the right to revisit and reuse their work. Not filing away their works immediately allows children to complete them over time, and attribute new meanings as they do. For example, a child can restart a process on an incomplete drawing later, or the drawing can invite a new process from another child who wants to build on their idea.

The Academic Learning Opportunities

  • LANGUAGE: Explore new vocabulary to communicate ideas.
  • ART: Elaborate on an imaginative idea from something that already exists, instead of just white paper.
  • SCIENCE: Reuse materials for another purpose.


  • Print some photos and lay a transparent sheet on top. Offer permanent markers and invite children to draw over the image that already exists.

Book Recommendation

A book about imagination and inspiration to get creative and reimagine the world.