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Art Lessons For Kids - Thumbprint Bugs

Bugs in a Jar Art Project for Kids

This is a variation of finger painting for kids.  And, because it has to do with bugs, the little one's love it!  I've done this project several times with kids in class and it always turns out very cool. This is also a great project to work on as a predecessor to science class or after a day at the zoo or science center.  

I usually start off by asking kids what their favorite bugs are, how many parts do they have to their bodies and how many legs they have.  I also ask them if they fly or crawl, or carry anything in their mouths or on their backs.  Then, I show them many pictures of bugs.

Materials you'll need for your Bugs in a Jar:

  • A background piece of construction paper (in the example I used green)  (11" x 17")
  • A thick white sheet of paper for painting on (11" x 17")
  • A thin paint brush
  • Many colors of paint, include black for legs/antennae (tempera, finger paint, or poster color)
  • Scissors
  • A Pencil
  • A Glue stick
  • small shallow dishes or plates to hold paint in
  • Old newspaper for blotting painted fingers

How To Assemble Your Bug Jar:

  1. On the white paper, draw a jar, including the lid
  2. Cut the jar shape out of the white paper
  3. Lay out your paints into shallow dishes/plates
  4. Lay out the BLACK paint, but to the side, it will be used later.
  5. Dip clean fingers into a color paint and blot them on the newspaper to find the perfect consistency of paint, that will make a nice fingerprint/thumbprint without getting goopy.
  6. Stamp your fingerprint onto the jar shape to make your bug shapes.  Clean fingers in between colors and continue until you fill the jar - leaving room for legs and antennae.
  7. When the bugs are all in place and the paint is dry, use the small brush and black paint to paint in legs and antennae.  It also looks good when antennae and legs overlap other bugs.
  8. Using the black paint, paint a line at the bottom of the jar, following the jar up one side, to give the appearance of glass.  Also, paint a line for the jar lid.
  9. Paint in the jar lid in your favorite color.
  10. When the paint is dry, use the glue stick to glue your jar onto the colored piece of construction paper.  Press from the center of the jar all the way to the edges.  (Make sure your hands are clean and the paint is all dry for this!).
  11. If time permits, go in and paint more details around the jar, such as: where the jar lives, if there are any other insects outside the jar, or what is on the wall behind the jar?

Clean Up:

Use a damp cloth with mild detergent to clean up any excess paint or glue.  Make sure to wash out your brushes in warm water with mild soap so they last for many paintings to come.If you're using nice furniture to make your project on, cover it with plastic or newspaper before you begin.

And, remember:  Art is a practice.  The more you do it, the better you get!


These are books I recommend:


Laura Spector (author) from Chiang Mai, Thailand on July 17, 2009:

Gypsy Willow - Thanks again! I hope you have an opportunity to try it out.

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on July 17, 2009:

Another lovely project, thanks a bunch!

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