Sunday, April 6, 2014

How to Make Egg Tempera Paint in Your Classroom

Making paint is a fantastic early childhood experience. I wanted to reuse egg "innards" from the blown eggs that 4th grade made in the art room next door. Kindergarten just studied Dr. Seuss, read Green Eggs and Ham in their classrooms, and tried scrambled eggs so that ship had sailed. Making food art with eggs wasn't a good match. Finally, I thought...EGG TEMPERA!

Consider what experiences you want your kids to gain. 
I wanted all of my students to 

~ choose colors
~ hammer chalk pastels
~ mix the binder and pigment
~ use the paints they created

Hopefully, this article will help you manage this process in your classroom or home. Before reinventing the wheel, I searched and discovered how Hannah of A Handmade Childhood made egg tempera paint at home with her kids. Her reference was Discovering Great Artists.

The biggest adjustment I made was placing pastels into plastic sandwich bags to contain the dust, and using a hammering instead of a grinding method.


   For the Pigment

            Magazines (or other material to dampen the sound and protect the table)
            Chalk pastels
            Plastic sandwich bags

   For the Binder

            Whisk or hand mixer
            Large yogurt container with lid
            Refrigerator for storing leftover egg mixture

   For the Created Paint

            Muffin tins, Plastic muffin pans, or old egg cartons (convenient for one-time reuse)
            Paintbrush (1 for each color)
            Small yogurt container for egg mixture

   For the Artwork

            Bristol board or card stock
            (Paintbrushes used for creating paint)
            Spray Fixative (optional but will likely preserve the artwork longer)

Making and Using Egg Tempera Paint

Class 1 - Demonstrate how to choose chalk pastels in analogous colors (reds and pinks or blues and greens), close securely in a plastic sandwich bag, place bag on top of a magazine, hammer lightly until it becomes a powder

Class 2 - Create pencil drawing, outline in sharpie, erase pencil

Preparation - Whisk or beat eggs in large yogurt container, add a small amount of water, pour egg mixture into small yogurt containers, add powdered pigment into muffin tins or egg cartons

Class 3 - Demonstrate how to take turns pouring a tiny amount of the egg mixture into a well of powdery pigment and mixing with a paintbrush. Use the paints to fill in the drawing and create a background.

After paintings have dried, finish with a spray fixative

A family of chickens

A chicken with chicken pox
Tips for Creating a Positive Experience

Create stations - If you only have 2-3 hammers or do not want the noise of an entire class hammering, try calling a small number of kids at a time to the hammering station and have their other choices be engaging, independent activities.

Clean up strategy - Are you going to use old egg cartons that get thrown away or muffin tins that you wash? I found myself with a lot of "dishes" to wash at the end of each class using plastic muffin tins and small containers within them.

Praise experimentation - Are some students making thinner or thicker paint by adding more or less of the egg mixture? Are some students overlapping colors, creating designs, or mixing their paints?

Too Much For a Classroom Activity? 

Try it in an after school club with a smaller number of students.
Do your parents need to put in volunteer hours? Ask parents to help.
Try another early childhood project like stamping with wooden blocks and tempera, paper quilling, or mixing tints and shades.

How can you adapt this lesson for your classroom or home?

Have you made paint before with young children?

Leave a comment or send an email!