This is a nearly completed version of the project. My 8th Grade class just finished the front and here it is drying flat on a table. This took two days to complete, and three days if you include an extra day to dry.
This project is amazing and super fun!
“Design is thinking made visual.” — Saul Bass
Each and every one of my students jumped at the idea of doing this project at the end of the year. It is a fun way to engage with your class and really send this off with something to remember them by. I thought of mine as a sort of yearbook.
Where I teach, I only have one 8th Grade class, and the class was small enough to allow me to have each student paint one hand for both the front and back. In most schools, you may have more than one class, and that is okay since this project is incredibly flexible. Ideally, you could create one shirt or piece of clothing for each class. I figured that I would look better in a shirt than a skirt or dress so I had my students design mine in their free time during class.
Ideally, this is a two to three-day project as your desired piece of clothing will need time to dry.
What You Need:
- At least one piece of White, clean clothing per one class
- Acrylic, Tempura, or Fabric friendly paint that is nontoxic
- Several willing participants who are not afraid to get a little messy
- Smocks or aprons to protect their clothing
- Paint trays to place the used bottles and squirt the paint on
- Paint brushes if they decide that they need to paint in some details
- Old newspaper or construction paper to cover the designated painting area
- A hanger to allow your clothing to air dry in your class if needed
- Construction paper to place in the clothing to prevent bleed-through
- Sharpies to sign or autograph their painted hands
- To have fun!
- Encourage creativity in the classroom with a fun and exciting new project that can set new trends
- To feel a sense of pride knowing that you have an amazing group of young minds in your classroom
- Place newspaper or construction paper across your desired painting area. This could include a large table or the floor. Some rearranging made be required in order to create the space, but don't worry, it is only temporary.
- Prepare the desired paint by creating stations of color on each tray or different color of construction paper on your targeted area for painting. A different color of paper will identify that this is where the paint belongs when it is not being used and also where to prepare the painted hands. You could also place another tray or piece of paper for just the paint that is squirted to prevent a bigger mess from being created.
- Place your desired piece of clothing on the table or area for painting with several sheets of paper inside, to prevent bleeding. Some paints can be very liquid-like and run, and if the fabric is to thin, it will bleed to the other side thus taking away additional space for more hands on the front or back depending on where you start. Also, be sure to place it somewhere where you will still have room to work on additional clothing items for other classes and to still easily navigate the room. Plan ahead.
- Lead the way by demonstrating what they will be doing either with paint or without. Start by squeezing some paint out on an open tray or piece of paper.
- Next place a hand, either the left or the right, in the paint of your choice and really smear it around to cover the entire palm. Use a paintbrush to fill in any gaps for additional details if desired.
- This step may require an assistant with a clean hand, preferably the teacher. Place the painted palm carefully on the piece of clothing. Press the hand firmly in place. A helper can assist by pressing the fingers or back of the hand gently to better apply the paint.
- Have an assistant or teacher place their hands on either side of the pressed hand. Once the clothing is firmly in place, have the student slowly raise their hand from the back of the palm to the tip of their fingers.
- Obverse and admire the newly placed palm and then instruct your student to wash their hands.
- After cleaning their hands, have them come back and pick up a sharpie to sign their name and or a brief message about what they learned or something nice about you, the teacher. After all, this is your version of a yearbook!
- Once one side of the shirt is finished, leave it to dry. This could take an hour or longer depending on how much paint was used. Ideally, this is a two-day project.
- After the clothing has dried, flip it over to the other side and repeat the painting process until everyone had a turn to go at least once and you cannot fit anymore.
In short, this is a fun and exciting project. My students loved doing this and knowing that I would actually wear it only encouraged them to do it that much more. It is a great way to remember all of your students and bond over a fun and engaging group activity.