Friday, March 25, 2011

Recycling unit: Batik-ed Grocery Bags

This is the middle piece of my most recent recycling unit.
My third graders began their investigation of recycling, re-inventing, and transforming materials with the styrofoam tray printing project.

I then moved on to a PAPER recycling lesson. I always begin a study of paper recycling by brainstorming a list of ways we use paper (newspaper, books, homework, toilet paper, egg cartons, gift wrap, labels, etc.) because it is amazing how many things are made out of paper and the kids form an immediate connection with the material and art process.
(I have a list of books that I use for recycling lessons- of course my pile is at school so I will post them next week when I get back there. )

This is one of my favorite art processes to do with kids.

We use cut down grocery bags as the paper for this lesson.
Step 1: Draw a design with pencil and trace with sharpie.
Step 2: Color the entire thing with oil pastels or construction paper crayons pressing down medium-hard.
(I usually use oil pastels but this time I used construction paper crayons.)

Step 3: Each student dips their paper into a small bucket of water and crumples it up. This is a very textural experience and very cool- the paper begins to feel like fabric when they do this.
Step 4: Flatten out the wet paper on to a double layer of newspaper.

Step 5: Using a big brush or foam brush paint over the entire paper with a dark watery paint. You can use highly concentrated liquid watercolor or a watered down tempera mixture. (Black, blue, purple work great. )
Step 6: Allow to dry right on the newspaper!

I often do this lesson as a recycled journal lesson. We create two of these batik-ed papers, and I have them paint over the back as well. Then we put them together with recycled paper from the copy machines as the blank paper filling.
(The ones above we went a step farther and did weavings as well.)

For this lesson in particular I was hard pressed for time so we did 9 x 12 pieces and I taught them how to draw the recycling symbol.

We followed this lesson up with the puppet project as we recycled clothing and fabric.


  1. I absolutely love this project.
    I love the texture of the paper.
    Did you use one session to complete this project?

  2. Glad to hear. This is one of my favorite activities.
    You can do it in two half hour sessions or 1 one hour session. It depends on how big the paper is that the kids are coloring.