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Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services News

Arts & Crafts with Fingerprints and Cotton Swabs

Suggested home activities by Happy Hollow Park & Zoo staff

Post Date:04/16/2020 11:00 AM

Four Season HandprintFour Seasons Handprint & Fingerprint Art

By Rhythms of Play


  • Four wrapped canvas square frames (or one large piece of heavier weight paper divided into four sections)
  • Tempura or acrylic paint
  • Mod podge
  • Foam brush
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pencil
  • Paint tray (optional)
  • Your child’s hand and fingers for making prints 

Tip: Break project up into phases to make it more manageable for your little one.


  1. Paint each wrapped canvas (or section of the paper) a different color for each of the four seasons. Make sure to paint over the sides of the canvas as well. Make sure the background color you choose is different from the colors you will use for your leaves/blossoms/snow. Allow painted canvas squares to dry before moving onto the next step.
  2. Place all four seasons of the canvas squares together with spring in the upper left corner, summer in the upper right corner, fall in the lower right corner, and winter in the lower left corner. This order allows you to have fallen snow and leaves be on the ground. Trace your child’s hand and forearm (either right or left, up to you) with pencil to make the trunk and branches of the tree by placing it in the middle of all four canvases. Make sure their fingers spread across all of the squares and their arm is dividing the lower two squares.
  3. Paint in the handprint tree. Use brown paint and a paintbrush to fill in your tree between your pencil lines. Use a darker shade of brown to add depth to the bark with thin lines (if desired). Allow the handprint tree to dry before moving onto the next step.
  4. Invite children to use their fingertips to paint leaves/blossoms/snow for each of the four seasons. Make sure your season are laid out in the correct positions. Invite them to add snow and fallen leaves on the bottom. Don’t forget to put some fallen leaves and snow around the sides of the bottom to give it a 3D effect. The general colors for each season are: greens, pinks, and reds for spring, greens and yellows for summer, white for winter, and yellows, reds, oranges, and browns for fall. Don’t worry if your children end up mixing the paint a bit on their fingertips, it creates a nice mottled leaf effect. Let paint dry before final step.
  5. Apply top coat to protect and seal in painting. Use a foam brush to apply Mod Podge to your canvases. Use long top to bottom strokes. Mod Podge goes on milky and dries clear. It works quickly and gets sticky. Allow everything to dry and then find a place to display it! Step 5 may not apply if you are using a single piece of paper instead of the canvases. 


Fingerprint Blue Bonnets

By Allison Aars


  • Paper
  • Ruler
  • Green Sharpie or marker
  • Tempura or acrylic paint. 


  1. Use ruler and green Sharpie/marker to draw lines for the stems of the flowers. Space them out so their is room to add the petals.
  2. You and your child can each be a different color to fingerprint the flowers. Stick to purples and blues. Add swiped thumbprints for leaves at the bottoms of the stems. You may need to do a first layer of fingerprints and let them dry before adding more. 


Tulip Field ArtField of Tulips Cotton Swab Painting

By Angela from Projects with Kids


  • Canvas or craft paper (keep it on the smaller side)
  • Acrylic paint
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint palettes
  • Water dish (can use recycled containers and plastic lids for this). 


  1. Paint your sky and grass using light blue, white and green. You can draw a line with pencil across the middle to show where the sky and grass end for your child when they are painting. While the sky is still wet, have them take some white paint and swirl in some clouds. Let the sky and grass dry completely before moving on.
  2. Get out your tulip colors and use one cotton swab for each color. Using one color at a time, have your child create rows of dots starting from the top of the grass to avoid smudging. Continue adding rows of tulips until the grass is all filled. Make sure everything is dry before moving on to the next step.
  3. Using a pencil, draw in the mountains. Have your child fill in the mountains with a darker shade of blue. Let dry and display! 


Colorful Cotton Swab Painted Dragonfly

By Angela from Project with Kids


  • Paper or cardstock
  • Pencil
  • Acrylic or tempura paint in assorted colors
  • Cotton swabs
  • Scissors
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint palettes


  1. Trace dragonfly shape onto paper using pencil. Erase and adjust as desired. Cut out dragonfly shape.
  2. Lay out all of your paint colors on your palette (plastic lid works just as well). Use one cotton swab per color.
  3. Let kids have fun and create their dragonfly wing pattern. Remind them to take their time and not to rush. Encourage them to explore different colors and patters.
  4. Once the wings are done, let them dry before painting the dragonfly body. Using a paintbrush, let kids pick out a color for the body. Once the base color is dry, pick out a couple of colors to paint with cotton swab patterns on top. Let dry and enjoy!


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