Paper vs Foil vs Cellophane. The Great Paint Off!

May 18, 2012


We are always looking for and thinking of new, fun ways to paint, so when we decided to give painting with foil a try, I thought it might be interesting to test a few other similar(ish) materials to see what the difference might be.

This allowed us to experience and discuss different patterns and textures, try out different techniques, make observations and conclusions about the experiment  as well as the general fine motor development, sensory experience and creativity that comes with any painting activity.

You will need: Paint, Paper, Foil and Cellophane.

painting experiment, painting activity, toddlers, preschoolers

Let the Paint Off begin!

This activity was completed by a 3 year old but can be modified to suit a variety of age levels. See the "Handy Tips" at the bottom.

The invitation to start experimenting


 Ummm, but how to paint with them?
Discuss the different ways that you could use the materials to paint with and experiment or decide the best or easiest way


 We decided upon "scrunched"


 The cellophane was really fun as it made different patterns because it wouldn't stay in a ball


 The foil made a more consistent pattern and she found the silver glinting through the paint to be quite fasinating


 I started imagining all the different shapes you could make by moulding the foil. Maddie was content with this same print.


 She really loved painting with the paper. It was "much softer than the others" and "made cool shapes"

We observed that the shapes made were similar but could definitely see the difference and found the sensory aspect of the materials to be very different indeed

After the initial experimenting and testing of the materials, it was time for a collaborative art piece


 This time all the materials had their own paint colour so we could clearly see the distinctions on the paper


 The cellophane was dubbed as the worst to paint with due to it flapping around everywhere and not leaving a great pattern


 The foil ended up coming 2nd in favourites. Probably because it was easy to hold and manipulate and because she liked how shiny it was


 The Paper? You guessed it. It was the favourite.


 I found that it started to rip and come apart after time as it got soggier, but this didn't phase Madeline.


kids painting activity, painting activity, painting experiment
Original Art Masterpiece. Created with scrunched paper, foil and cellophane.




Handy tips:

-Simplify this activity by providing the scrunched balls of paper, foil and cellophane and just letting your child create some art using the different materials


-Extend this activity by having your child form some hypothesis about the experiment. For example, ask your child what they think the differences will be before you start the painting. Help them write or decide upon a statement about the results, ie. "The foil will be the best to paint with because of...." etc. "It will work better than the .... because...." etc. Then test the theory and see if you agree at the end.

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "patterns" and "experimenting." This will help with their language development.

-Ask questions to help connect their understanding and use vocabulary to give them words to describe what they're creating, eg. "What is it like to paint with that one?", "How are you going to hold that to get the best patterns?", "Why do you think the paper is ripping?" etc

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.


Debs :)

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18 comments:

  1. The facial expressions are priceless! Such great experimenting and creating.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. haha, I know, she was enjoying it so much! Thank you and you're welcome :)

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  2. What a great preschool friendly experiment. It has all the elements of the scientific process. Love it!

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    1. Thanks so much Jamie. It's fun to be able to introduce basic scientific concepts through easy activities :)

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  3. What a fun activity! My daughter would love this! Pinned :)

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  4. looks like fun, thanks for sharing. frogs and snails and puppy dog tails

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  5. interesting how you took a bit of a scientific observation approach to this. and i always find the tips at the bottom of your posts so helpful!

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    1. Thank you andie... that's the idea lol. Glad to know they are actually useful. I imagine really that most people are just wanting to find some activity to do that will keep their children entertained. What I'm trying to do is show people that with a bit of simple questioning and just a tiny bit of tweaking of an activity, you can get SO much more learning out of it. :)

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  6. Super idea to compare textures and patterns! I would not have thought to use these items as tools rather than canvases! :)

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    1. Thanks tricia! I know what you mean. I am always seeing people's ideas of using certain things in a certain way that I never would have thought of either. So fun to be able to share and learn from everyone... all to the benefit of the kids of course :) Thanks for taking the time to comment. Debs :)

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  7. I love it when you say "I started imagining all the different shapes you could make by moulding the foil". I imagined myself doing the activity with my children, I wouldn't be able to resist just having a little go! Sharing on Triple T Mum FB Page :)

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    1. Thanks Amie. I usually do end up having a go at these things too.. I also can't resist! :) The hardest part for me a lot of the time is just letting her do what she wants without me trying to influence her to use the materials in the way that I might use them. I often have to let her do her thing.. then I can have a go and show the different ways of doing things. Thank you for the comment and share. Debs :)

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  8. what a great experiment. Good to know that regular paper is the best, that makes my life easier.

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    1. haha. That is true! Now all I need to give her is 2 pieces of paper. One to paint on, one to paint with lol. Thanks for the comment :)

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  9. From the title, I thought you were going to paint on the materials. I was pleasantly surprised that you painted with them! You share such great tips to maximize the learning potential for this activity!

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    1. So glad to have pleasantly surprised you :) Perhaps I should have made it more clear that we were testing these materials as the actual painting tools and not just the canvases. haha, oh well. At least anyone who actually has a look will see that it's a little bit different. Thank you for your lovely comment :)

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.