Paper Towel Art Activity For Kids

Turn a plain black & white drawing into a colourful piece of art in seconds and amaze your kids!

This is a great activity for kids to practice their design skills, as they need to think about what their design will look like once it’s added to water and the full image appears. It’s also a fun way to explore how water affects different materials. 

You will need: Paper towels, scissors, a waterproof container, water, permanent marker and washable markers or felt tips.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. Fold a paper towel in half and cut through the middle to create two rectangles of paper towelling that are folded into a square.

2. Take one of these squares and draw a design in permanent marker on it. Open it up so the towelling is a rectangular shape again and check if the ink has run through to the square underneath. If it hasn’t, you can go over it a bit more so you can see the design well enough on the square beneath.

3. Use a washable felt tip or marker to colour in or add to your design on the square underneath, using the permanent marker pen that has bled through as a guide.

4. Now fold the rectangle back into a square so you can see the original design and the coloured in version is hidden. Add to water and watch the washable inks bleed through to complete your picture!

Here’s how it works:

Washable or non-permanent markers and felt tips are made using dyes that are stored in a water-based solution. When you colour with them, the water evaporates and the ink dries, but if you add water the ink will run because the dye molecules can move about freely in water.

Permanent markers are made using dye that is stored in something like alcohol. They don’t move about freely in water, so if you add water nothing usually happens.

When you put your design in water, the dye molecules from your washable markers quickly escape their part of the paper towel and start to spread out and through the tiny holes in the paper towelling, adding colour to your original picture!

Have you given this a go? Tag us @supastem and use the hashtag #supastemclub so we can share in your family fun!