Pretty purple paper towel heart art…

When I looked around the room to see what I could do with a roll of paper towels I had sitting on my shelf, I came up with this pretty paper towel heart activity…

To make this, I cut out heart shapes from a roll of paper towels then placed them on a large sheet of white paper and painted over them…

The paper towel hearts have a “doily-like” design on them that shows through once you press the paper towel hearts on your paper. But first, you paint over the entire heart shape(s) on a piece of heavy white paper…

Next, place another sheet of white paper over the painted hearts and firmly rub the paper all over then peel off your top layer of paper and set aside.  Next place your canvas on top of the the painted paper with the hearts, then flip it completely over and firmly rub the paper again…

Finally, peel the paper off the canvas (hearts and all) and you have now transferred your painting to the canvas. By painting on paper first, you can almost see the final results before transferring the paint onto the canvas…

After you paint the hearts and transfer the painting to the canvas, you will end up with a set of colorful paper towel hearts too. If set aside to dry, the paper towel hearts become stiff and dry and can be used in other activities or artwork…

So the above instructions is how I made my own paper towel heart art on canvas but when I shared the idea with my students, their heart art turned out a little bit different…

I should have taped the paper towels to the paper because the children had a hard time keeping the paper towels in one spot on the paper while they painted…

Also, my students realized that red, white, and blue all mixed together will make purple so they spent most of their time making purple paint and painting all purple hearts…

And the children didn’t quite understand that the goal was to create a painting using the entire paper. They just thought they were to paint the paper towel hearts so we ended up with lots and lots of purple painted paper towel hearts and the purple blobs on black or white paper…

About half way through this process, I didn’t even worry about trying to make a pretty heart canvas with the children. I just let the children have fun painting purple on their paper towel hearts.  Perhaps if I do this again, we will walk through the process a little more carefully, and I will hide the blue paint

Bit in any case, the children enjoyed the color mixing and their collection of purple hearts. I hung my own pretty paper towel heart canvas on my wall in my office as a reminder that not every process will turn out quite as planned but it is the process that matters the most to the children…

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By |2012-02-02T07:30:43+00:00February 2nd, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Shelby February 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    Just had to let you know how much I appreciated this post. Usually the night before a school day I am trying things out for my kids to do the next day. I’m thinking it’s simple, it’s different, and has a nice result, great. But what I envision and what the kids do or focus on are not what I intended….but we go with it. I’m discovering that, mostly, it is the process that matters to them (and it should be for us too). Thank you for the reminder and your insight.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:04 am - Reply

      I always set up the night before and have this grand plan, but my kids definitely have an agenda of their own!

  2. Mandy February 3, 2012 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    This is so close to my experiences, (often) with my group of children. So many times “my” plans are not necessary theirs. I am learning that what I want for them (product) is moot… it really is all about experience!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Yes it is!

  3. Esther February 3, 2012 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    The prints came out neat! Once we had tissue paper impressions after painting with koolaid ice. But I never thought of making stamps with tissue paper!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:03 am - Reply

      Well, this is actually paper towels 🙂

  4. Km February 3, 2012 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    So pretty! So fun! they love the process and that makes for the best valentine gift ever. 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 11:02 am - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by Katherine:) You always make me smile!

  5. lekki February 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    I love this post. When I read the first part; describing the printing process I was thinking “No way! How is she going to get the children to make these?” Then, in the second segment I saw what the children made; and thought it was great. They did exactly what I expected to see; explored the properties of the materials, let their imaginations and creativity flow and had what looked to be a thoroughly enjoyable, experience without needing to make something to suit an adult’s expectation and interpretation of what was “right”. I’m sure the children were very satisfied with the finished results and along the way they developed their fine motor skills and learnt about colour-mixing and transfer. I really like that you enabled the children to go-with-the-flow and let the activity run its course to go the way the children wanted it to, it’s a wonderful reminder about the importance of process not product. I also like the comment you made about next time hiding the blue paint! Thankyou so much for your wonderful blog, I read it every day.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      I am glad you kept reading! LOL!! I didn’t realize the children would totally not get this idea at all – sometimes I can be a little out of the loop but when they clearly were not going to be able to make the hearts the way I envisioned, I just had to smile and rename the project “pretty purple hearts”!

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