Mix-It-Up Sponge Painting


Sponges are great tools to mix colors, make sponge prints, and clean up art projects. Squeeze a sponge today!


1. Have you ever played that game where you think up lots of different ways to use an everyday item? Here is your chance to try that imagination challenge with a sponge, which you usually use to clean up spills.

2. With your classmates, come up with as many creative ideas as you can for using sponges and Crayola® Artista II® Tempera. It’s washable! Think about how you can take advantage of the characteristics of sponges and the paint’s brilliant colors to try new art techniques. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Sponges can be dry or wet. A dry sponge is stiff, so you can use the edges to print, draw, or etch straight lines. Wipe away sections of wet paint to create depth and dimension. When your sponge is wet, you can quickly dampen a whole sheet of paper for a watery look. Use a damp sponge to quickly cover a large area with paint (or wipe it away to start again).
  • Sponges let you be in control. The corner of a damp sponge is perfect to mix colors. Experiment! Combine any two primary colors (red, blue, yellow) to make secondary colors. With a sponge, you can choose exactly how much white (for tints) or black (for shades) to add. You can marbleize paint with the point of a damp sponge, and then print your marbled colors on paper. A dry, pointed sponge end is perfect to dot pinpricks of color, such as snow or raindrops. You can easily paint large or irregular surfaces, such as paper-maché constructions or big cardboard boxes, with a damp sponge.
  • Sponges have amazing texture. When you print with a sponge, the textures look really cool. Cover a sponge with paint and stamp it again and again to make a bumpy-looking pattern. Blot most of the paint from a sponge and use it with a stencil for a finely textured look. Flip a sponge from side to side to print an endless array of Swiss-cheese textured rectangles.
  • Sponges take shapes. Most sponges are rectangles. How many different rectangles can you find on a sponge? If you print them together, what geometric designs could you create? With Crayola Scissors, you could cut a sponge into almost any shape. Combine shapes to make prints. For example, by cutting just one flower petal, you could print a garden of blooms. Twist the tip of the sponge in a small circle to make flower centers. Swirl your sponge in a larger circle to paint a textured sun. Use the edges of a dry sponge to make stems, grass, and the sun’s rays. And of course, print the petals.
  • Sponges are reusable. Print several impressions and let your art dry. Wash the sponge. Print with the same side of the sponge again, using different colors. Or print one color, rinse the sponge, and wet print another color on top of it to mix colors.

3. It’s time to put your creative ideas into action! Cover your art area with recycled newspaper. Use recycled foam produce trays as palettes to mix colors. Experiment with different colors and techniques. See how many different colors, shapes, textures, lines, and forms you can create. These are the basic elements of all art, and you can achieve them all with a sponge.

4. When you’re through painting, use your sponges one last time—to clean up!

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Recycled Foam Produce Trays—Wash in hot, soapy water. No meat or poultry trays should be used.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

Sponges and Foam—Sponges, foam, and other expandable materials should not be used with children 3 years old and younger.


  • Start round-robin sponge prints on a large sheet of paper. Print one art element. Pass the paper on to a classmate to add another element. Stop the rotation when all of you feel your piece has a polished, finished look.
  • Track down professional artists who use sponges in their art. Why do they prefer sponges? What unique qualities do sponges lend to their art?
  • Find out how natural sponges live and are harvested. Discover how sponges are manufactured. What are the similarities and differences between the two types of sponges? What advantages does each have for artists?
  • Study a color wheel. Find the primary and secondary colors. How do you identify complementary colors? How can you mix tertiary (intermediate) colors?

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Share on Facebook


crayola supplies
  • Artista II® Washable Tempera Paint
  • Blunt-Tip Scissors
  • Construction Paper
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • sponges
  • paper towels
  • recycled foam produce trays
  • container(s) of water



  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6


  • Math
  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • Less than 1/2 hour
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Students generate possibilities for various art techniques using sponges and washable paint.

  • Students experiment with printing, color mixing, marbling, etching, and other sponge-painting techniques.

  • Students create the basic art elements—line, shape, form, color, texture—using paint and sponges.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards