Kaleidoscope art (tape rubbings)

This activity is really just called tape rubbings but since we were spending our morning exploring kaleidoscopes and because these pictures are kind of an abstract art process, I decided that this would work pretty well as a way to explore kaleidoscope art…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

This is a super cool process to introduce to the children but I realized after we introduced it that it is the type of process that the children need to experience on several occasions in order to really get the full effect of the process. For today, we focused on the very basics….

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

To create tape rubbings, you will need clear tape (scotch tape), markers or crayons (we used both), white paper, and paper towels…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

To make tape rubbings, start by inviting the children to tape a length of tape on the paper and then rub it flat.  This part of the  process is great all by itself.  From being selective in how long of a piece of tape that is pulled off the tape dispenser to pulling the tape off the dispenser to getting the tape to lay flat on the paper all requires concentration, fine motor skills, and the children find it interesting…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

Once the first piece of tape is on the paper, invite the children to use either a crayon or marker to color over the tape and across the paper…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

Next, invite the children to take a paper towel and rub the marker or the crayon off of the tape.  Mrs. Courtney and I made several of these pictures ourselves (during our planning time) and found that the marker wiped off very easily. The crayon wiped off easily too but needed just a little more muscle put into it.  When we talked with the children, we told them that to rub off the crayon, they were going to have to show us their muscles! And they did a wonderful job…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

After the children did the three steps: tape, color, rub then they repeated the steps again. Since this was their very first time experiencing this process, we broke the process down into those three steps so they would get the idea.  I plan to invite the children to explore this process again, now that they understand it, only next time – not focus on the steps but on the creative aspect a little more…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

Some of my students took their time exploring the process and some gave it a quick try and moved on…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

I think this process (the way I have described it) is really best for prek age students and older. Mrs. Courtney and I loved it but I am not sure how much my students really loved it. The children found it interesting to try and each step was good for fine motor development and interesting to explore but I think when they can explore the process without focusing on each step so much, they will enjoy it more…

Kaleidoscope Art (Tape Rubbings) by Teach Preschool

To see the potential for this process, you really should hop on over to Octavia and Vicky – this is where I got the idea from. I thought it was a nice spin on the traditional tape resist painting and love the beautiful results she shares.

Available on Amazon


  1. says

    Hey there! Been following on twitter. I’m looking forward to trying this activity with my kids. Kaleidoscopes are a fun way to explore patterns and symmetry with children of all ages. It gets their minds flexed to consider math concepts.

    This past Christmas, we discovered a really beautiful item called the “Kaleidograph Toy.” My kids have been playing with it, exploring patterns and challenging each other to create designs that are more and more intricate. They have two versions that explore patterns found in nature – one is crystal patterns (think snowflakes) and the other is floral – (imagine the millions of symmetrical possibilities found in flowers!)

    It’s made by a small US company. Pretty sure you can find them on Amazon too. :)

    Here’s a link to their website where they have a short clip that shows how it works. It’s one of those things that, when you see it, you wish every kid could have one. http://kaleidographtoy.com/

  2. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Yay – thanks for the recommendation! And for following on Twitter:) I will check out the kaleidographtoy…

  3. Deb says

    We tried this and they loved it. We also tried using watercolors to paint over the top of the tape. It’s interesting to the children that the watercolor does not soak into the tape. We produced some pretty neat abstract art.

  4. says

    Great activity and wanted to let you know its all over twitter. I can’t tell you how many times I saw this post retweeted.

  5. Janet T. says

    We’ve lined our TP tubes with silver mylar, or even silvery chip bag liners and the refections really add to it. I like the larger size of your tubes. Are these from the photo shop?

  6. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Yes, the tubes are from the photo shop:) I think I might give the idea of lining the tubes with something silvery a try!

  7. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    You are a big leap ahead of me Deb! I was just thinking the other day that we should see how well it would work with watercolor paint!