We do a lot of hand print art in our classroom. In fact, we routinely make one piece of hand print art each month to go into the students’ End of the Year Memory books.
One of the things I love about hand print art is that despite the fact that all of the pieces start with the same basic design, they can still come out with so much personality.
Here are some examples from our recent October spiders:
Almost all hand print art has some room for characterization though embellishment (usually adding facial features, or perhaps arms and legs), but there are several ways we have discovered to really bring out the creativity. Here are a few suggestions for making hand prints with character:
Provide a Sample – and Then Forget About It
When the paint on the hand prints are dry we bring them back to the Little People for them to add their personal touches. We do provide a sample of each design for the Little People, so they can actually see what we are making (because naked hand prints just look like – hands). If a Little Person is not sure how to begin their embellishments, we will point out the features of the sample. (“Bunnies have eyes and a nose…”). But after that, as long as they get going, we try to forget about the sample. If they put the bunny nose on upside down? We’re good with that. If they give their bunny a face of Shock and Awe instead of a cute, demure mouth? Even better (at least in my opinion).
Hand over the (Embellishing) Pen
This is actually my #1 tip for making hand print art with character. For meaningful personalizing, whatever needs to be drawn on the hand print should be done by the maker of the actual hand. Hand over the Sharpie and let them draw it on by themselves. (If they are able, of course. My Little People are 3, 4, and 5, with varying degrees of fine motor control.) Again, you can refer them to the sample to get them going, but then let them go for it.
Provide Some Choice in the Embellishment Options
When we did our spider hand prints, we talked about how some spiders have two eyes, and some spiders have lots of eyes. Then, when the Little People came to add the eyes, we asked how many eyes they wanted on their spider. When they gave a number, we would count together to get that many, and then they would glue them on and then draw the pupils – which gave us a great variety of spider looks.
This turkey puppet (while not a hand print) is a good example of this idea to provide some embellishment choices. We intentionally put out several sizes of wiggly eyes so that each person could create just the look that they wanted.
Let Go of Your Expectations
I also find it important to let go of any expectations of how a piece is supposed to look. For example, when we made the spiders, I did not think that someone would want to color the eyes black. But someone did, and we let it go:
The same with these cute octopuses. See the one of the bottom right that is “upside down”? If we had fussed about this and somehow made them correct it, we would have had a “correct” octopus, but perhaps a disappointed student.If you really have a hard time ending up with something upside down or sideways, you can always block off parts of the hand print with a post it note to limit drawing space availability and help your students “aim” when they draw.
To me, hand print art is a “win win”. We can represent a theme, record their current hand size, and also allow them to show off their creative fine motor skills, all in one activity. What’s not to about that?
Looking for hand print ideas that can easily be personalized? Check out my Pinterest board below.