How to Make Paint Stencils From Sponges

by Nannette Richford ; Updated September 28, 2017

Providing a variety of stencils and stamps for young children allows them to create more detailed pictures, especially if they don't have the skills to draw the objects they want. Purchasing a supply of stencils or stamps can be expensive, but you can make your own for a fraction of the cost from ordinary household sponges.

Purchase ordinary household sponges. You can often find a pack of multicolored sponges in the dollar store for a few dollars. These do not have to be high quality and they should not contain a layer of textured scrubbie material on either side.

Select some basic shapes for your first attempt at making stencils for sponge painting. Hearts, circles, stars, moons and flowers are good choices.

Trace the image onto the dry sponge with a marker. Cut the image out with a sharp pair of scissors or use a craft knife to cut around the outline of the image.

Create more complicated images by printing out silhouettes of animals or common objects and tracing the outline onto a dry sponge. Cut out the image with a utility knife. Store stencils in a plastic bin that is light enough for children to carry easily.

Cover a table with a layer of old newspaper to protect the surface. Provide several colors of tempera paint in shallow bowls or containers for dipping the sponge. Place a supply of paper to use for painting in a location that is easy for your child to reach or attach a sheet of paper to a child-sized easel. Wet the sponge stencils so they are damp but not dripping. Trim any jagged edges with a pair of scissors. Model the process of dipping the stencil into the paint and stamping the paper. Demonstrate washing the stencil in plain water before changing to a new color. Allow children to paint freely, mixing and matching colors to express their imagination and creativity.

Clean up with warm soapy water. Wash the sponges to remove all traces of paint and set them in a plastic basket to dry. Be sure to set the basket on old newspapers to absorb drips.


  • An old adult T-shirt works great as a smock to protect children's clothing. Simply remove , rinse in cold water to remove paint residue, and launder as usual. Painting should be fun. Avoid the temptation to become too involved in your child's work. Forgetting to rinse the sponge before switching colors shouldn't be a big deal.

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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.