Am I weird for thinking this Salt Painting Collage belongs in a museum? Because I seriously do. I mean, look at those colors! Kids are just amazing and this process art activity is a fantastic, multi layered experience that they just love. I highly recommend it. The kids in this post are all 3, which is a perfect age for this art project, though I think it would also work great for 2.5-5 year olds. I have a two year old that would love it and I know tons of five year olds that would really enjoy it too. Process art is essential for building creative thinkers and problem solvers and adding collage to the classic technique of salt painting just keeps the possibilities wide open. I love it!
There are many ways to do this, so feel free to substitute any of the materials, but just fyi, here is everything we used.
8×7 piece of plywood I got for free at Home Depot in the scraps
sanding sponge (awesome for kids!!)
salt from the dollar store
We started by sanding the wood. I do a little behind the scenes sanding prior to class just for safety, but this is definitely something kids can participate in. I love these sanding sponges. They are great for little hands, easy to use and last forever. The kids love feeling the rough wood get smooth from just a little back and forth with the sponge. I like to walk around and do a little smooth test to make sure everybody did some great sanding. PS A lot of little kids don’t know where wood comes from. This is a great little side conversation you can have with them as you work.
Next comes the painting. We use my favorite paints ever to do a wash over the wood. This creates a beautiful backdrop for all the collage materials and salt painting. It also gives the kids a chance to make color decisions, blend colors, think about composition and get comfortable with their materials.
After the painting step is complete, we began collaging on the wood. Kids used paint brushes and cups of Elmer’s glue to apply the tissue paper shapes and white paper circles. I instructed them to glue under the collage materials and over them as well to secure the shapes in place. Some kids needed extra help with this part.
*Tip* If you used a thicker tempera paint for the background, it can also serve as glue. The paint we used is a thinner paint that won’t hold the paper to the wood.
I have a million bags of tissue paper confetti. Last year I made confetti stuffed balloons for Gigi’s second birthday that were so cool. I’m still mad at myself for not taking pics of them. They were soooo pretty. Anyway…
Next comes the highlight of the whole project, the salt painting. The kids took turns squeezing white glue in squiggly lines all over their wood and then covered them with salt. The paint we used dried really quickly so the salt only went on the glue lines. If you use a thicker tempera paint, you may want to wait a day for this part, though, this project is all about the process, rather than the outcome, so whatever you decide will be great. We knocked off the excess salt on the table and the kids began to drop the liquid watercolors gently onto the salted glue lines. Cue the oohs and ahhs. The watercolor travels along the salt rivers as we called them spreading all around the wood. You can see colors mix, especially if you drop primary colors next to each other. It’s really cool.
The kids totally love this part and could have done it for an hour. In fact, every time I turned around they’d add more glue and salt to their wood and more and more liquid watercolors. Of course, this is going to be different for every age group. For the threes, I just let them go for it.
As you can see from this smile, the kids were so proud of their work. We set them aside for several days to dry before we picked them up : ) When they dried some of the color evaporated from the salt. I gently swept some of the excess salt off with my hand but no matter how it looks, it’s really fun.
How cute are these little artists?! We did a mini gallery show after class where all the moms had to guess who created each piece. If they guessed right the kids would stand behind their art. It’s a really nice way to end each class.
I know this project has a lot of steps. You can skip any of them and just go straight for the salt painting. You could skip the wood and go straight to paper. Just use a thick paper, like watercolor paper to hold the weight of the salt. If you’d like some more ideas for art projects for three to five year olds, just click those words for over 50 ideas. Thanks for reading along everyone and have fun!
For the one above we added tissue paper collage first, with tissue paper squares and white glue applied with a paintbrush. Then we did the salt painting over it. When we finished I went over the art with mod podge and a paint brush so that the salt wouldn’t fall off. It worked like a charm.
Thanks for reading along! xo Meri