Exploring shapes and oil in preschool

In my previous post, I shared with you how we explored the book “I See A Song” by Eric Carle.  This book is filled with lots of shapes and design that overlap each other and emerge into different scenes along the way…

We used this book as a springboard to not only explore music, as I shared in this post, but to explore overlapping shapes on our easel…

The children called out different shapes and as they did, I drew them on our dry-erase board then the children stopped by and colored in different sections of our shapes…

Then the children went off to draw their own shapes with crayons and papers…

To create our shapes and oil artwork, the children started by drawing their own shapes with crayons on paper…

Once they created their shapes, the children took their paper to another table that was set up with cups of vegetable oil and sponge brushes…

The children used the oil to cover their drawings and the entire paper. The oil made the drawings shiny and very pretty to look at…

Once the drawings were completely covered with oil, we set them in between sheets of paper towels to soak up some of the excess oil…

Then the drawings were set out on a table to air dry over the weekend.  It is hard to tell in these photos, but the oil makes the paper feel almost like wax and the oil also makes the paper almost transparent…

A simple activity with a pretty cool effect for the children to explore…


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By |2012-05-24T07:00:24+00:00May 24th, 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. Amanda Close May 24, 2012 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I love your posts! this one in particular. I was looking through Eric Carle’s book today about a Sea Horse… what a fantastic activity to share with my 2 – 4 year olds next week. Looking forward to incorporating the oil effect with the ocean under water scenes. I have already begun an ocean floor mini made of felt and this will cap it off nicely. Thank you.

  2. [email protected] May 24, 2012 at 8:32 am - Reply

    What a neat idea. I have never seen oil use in this way before. Can’t wait to try it 🙂

  3. Roopa May 24, 2012 at 9:00 am - Reply

    We LOVE the transparent look that oil gives to the papers. And oil makes the paper stick to the windows, making it a simple suncatcher:)

  4. Km May 24, 2012 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Wonderful, creative and fun… As always!!!! I love the overlapping shapes exercise!

  5. School Sparks Renee May 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Another great idea, Deborah! I never put oil on paper, but it seems like a fabulous idea. I’ll try it this summer with my grandsons! Thanks so much. The pictures are great, too! Renee

  6. Ana (@Lucasitos_Mommy) May 25, 2012 at 8:46 am - Reply

    So fun! Definitely trying this with my son. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  7. Janet T. May 27, 2012 at 10:23 am - Reply

    I wonder how oil pastel sticks would work…

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      I don’t know but it I imagine it would be quite lovely!

  8. Patti Colwell February 18, 2017 at 7:29 am - Reply

    I’ve never painted with oil. So crazy question, but does the oil dry? What kind of paper did you use? I’m intrigued.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 18, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Yes, the oil dries after a few days and the paper becomes stiff and kind of transparent. I find thinner art paper works very well but I haven’t tried it on another kind.

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