How to Do Scratch Art

I remember when my grandmother taught me how to do scratch out many years ago.  I remembered thinking it was something akin to magic.  As a teacher I've taught children how to do scratch and they all have the same reactions.  Ooooooooooh!  That's so cool!  How did that happen?  Read on to learn how to do scratch art with your children.

Camping Drawing

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

When introducing a new skill to children, I enjoy using children's books at the beginning of the lesson.  Flashlight by Lizi Boyd (affiliate link to Amazon) is a wordless book about camping.  The illustrations are done in a style similar to scratch art and can provide a terrific source of inspiration.

From School Library Journal:
A wandering boy investigates the night in this wordless picture book. Bold black backgrounds feature outlines in grays, whites, and muted greens of trees, stream, plants, and animals. Each page discloses in full color something formerly hidden via the stream of light from the child's flashlight. Readers discover flags on a treehouse, apples on the ground, and a deer. In a fun twist, when the flashlight drops, various creatures take turns shedding light on the boy. A luna moth flutters on each page, waiting to be discovered. This elegant book serves to alleviate fear of night noises, instigate talk of nocturnal creatures, or bring calm as a bedtime story.

Book Cover

You can also read Flashlight on YouTube here  Chronicle Books put together a really nice video to preview the book.  I love the music!

What You Need

  • paper, white or lightly colored works best
  • bright crayons (Crayola works best for this kind of project.)
  • several black crayons (again, Crayola works best.)
  • toothpicks

How to Do Scratch Art

1. First, take your crayons and color large swatches of color on the paper.  Press as hard as you can to make the colors as bright as possible.

Step One

2. Take the black crayons and color on top of the color swatches you made in step one.  Again, press as hard as you can.  You may need more than one black crayon to cover everything. 

Step Two

3.  Pick up a toothpick and use it like a pencil.  Instead of drawing, you are going to scratch a picture.  Experiment with the amount of pressure you use.  Light scratches will create light colors in your drawing and deep scratches will create brighter colors.

Step Three

What do you think?  Is this something you'd try with your students?  If you do try this, please remember to supervise the children while they use the toothpicks.  This is a very safe activity and sometimes accidents happen.  It's no fun when little fingers and eyes get poked, so watch them carefully.

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