There are so many ways to do printing with the 3-5 year old group. Three that we have done recently are bubble wrap prints, mirror prints and muffin tin prints. The muffin tin prints are from the fabulous book "Art workshop for children" by Barbara Rucci (www.artbarblog.com).
Bubble Wrap Prints
For this project I bubble wrapped the entire table (idea from Julia Linsteadt). I've also seen bubble wrapped trees (Art bar blog) which looks so awesome, if only I had a big tree in the garden to use.
I then used the book "Mix it Up" by Herve Tullet to get the children to apply finger paint to the bubble wrap and experiment with mixing colours. I read it out as they applied each colour and mixed away.
Here comes the printing part....then I handed out pieces of paper which the children pressed down onto the bubble wrap, pulled away, and viola they have a print! Double sided prints really as they got hand prints from their messy hand on the other side. Have a big stack of paper ready as they just keep printing and printing...
A great way to wrap up this activity (idea from Julia again) is to squirt shaving cream all over the bubble wrap and they can then mix it into the paint and get really messy..
It's always fun to paint on any surface that isn't paper. Mirrors are a great surface to use. If I had the space in my studio I would set up one huge mirror for painting just like Meri Cherry.
You can get the children to paint anything of course, and you don't need to take prints. However I thought this was a good opportunity for the preschoolers to really look at their faces, where their nose is, where the mouth is, how big are their eyes etc. They observed first, then painted their faces onto the mirrors. Then I handed out paper, which was pressed onto the painting and pulled off to reveal their print. We had some cloths available to wipe the mirror clean so they could start again with a new picture and the process is repeated.
Muffin Tin Prints
This is such an awesome idea with such great results. If you don't have a muffin tin, no worries, use an upside down paint palette or upside down containers. We used a few different things. Some children sat and did this for ages, others were a lot quicker. I decided to display the prints on black paper, yet Bar has a couple of other suggestions in her book.