Bubble Painting

Children will make bubble paintings.

Birds Nest

Lesson Objective

Children will make bubble paintings and will make the connection between this activity and a work of art.


What You'll Need

  • Drinking straws – 1 per child
  • Disposable pie pan – 1 per child
  • 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid – 1 per pie pan
  • ½ cup water – 1 per pie pan
  • Book, The Three Little Kittens by Jerry Pinkney
  • 1–2 tablespoons of tempera paint – 1 per pie pan
  • Light-colored 9" x 12" construction paper – at least 1 sheet per child
  • Image from the Barnes Foundation: Download Laundry (Le Linge)by Édouard Manet

What To Do

Note: This lesson is a follow-up activity to the lessonObserving Art, found on this website. Prior to the start of the lesson, mix together water, dishwashing liquid, and paint. Pour the mixture into the pans. Cover tables with plastic or newspaper prior to beginning the painting activity.

  1. Read the story, and discuss reasons for doing the laundry.
  2. Display the image of the painting, Laundry (Le Linge) by Édouard Manet.
  3. Have the children name items that are necessary for doing the laundry. Be sure to note that using soap is one of the keys to getting the clothes clean.
  4. Tell the children that they will be using soap to create their own works of art.
  5. Have children gather at their tables. Then, distribute the paper.
  6. Demonstrate using a straw to blow bubbles by dipping one end of the straw into the mixture in the pan and blowing gently to make bubbles. Make a point to stop blowing when the bubbles reach the edge of the pan.
  7. Gently place a piece of construction paper on top of the bubbles and hold in place for a few seconds. As the bubbles pop, they will leave marks on the paper.
  8. Remove the paper, and set it aside to dry.
  9. Distribute straws, and have the children practice blowing air through the straw and into their hands.
  10. Place pans on tables, and have the children begin to blow bubbles (see Lesson Tips).
  11. Instruct the children to place their paper on top of the bubbles and hold it in place for a few seconds, then remove the paper and set it aside to dry.
  12. Take a gallery walk, and have children discuss the colors in their bubble paintings.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me what the woman is using to do her laundry.
  • Explain what is needed to clean clothes.
  • Describe the colors with which the artist chose to paint this image.
  • Describe the colors in your bubble painting.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Encourage experimentation with this activity by mixing different colors of paint together in the pans. Allow children to hold their paper on top of the bubbles for varying lengths of time. Invite the children to discover the different bubble designs and colors that they can make.
  • Create a color-mixing station in your science area so children can experiment with new colors.
  • A math center could be created with the pans using droppers or pipettes to determine the number of drops it takes to create the favorite shade of color.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children describe what the woman is using to do her laundry?
  • Could children explain that soap is needed to get clothes clean?
  • Could children describe the colors in the painting?
  • Did all children make a bubble painting?


Did You Know

The focus work of art for this lesson is Laundry (Le Linge) by Édouard Manet. It is from the art collection of the late Dr. Albert Barnes at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Barnes believed that there are several key components in understanding works of art. One of those is being able to imagine the story that goes with the work of art. Asking children to think about the story that is suggested by an artist’s work can help them understand what they seeWhen exploring art with young children, learning experiences can be enriched by linking everyday objects and activities to artwork. 

Édouard Manet was a French painter. He was one of the first artists to paint everyday activities, such as doing laundry. In the museum painting, the lady and her child are doing the laundry in a way that is very different from how laundry is done today. Using soap is an important part of cleaning clothes, so soap was used in the art activity of this lesson.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • reason – a cause or explanation for an activity.
  • laundry – clothing, sheets, and other things that you need to wash in order to clean them.
  • artwork – a painting, sculpture, or other illustrative project.
  • painting – a picture where someone has used a liquid to put color on the surface.
  • soap – something used to wash the body or other things like dishes or clothes.
  • bubble – a small amount of air that is surrounded by another substance.

Lesson Tips

  • Tell the children to blow gently through the straws and not to draw liquid up the straw and into their mouths. You can also use a pin to put a hole in each straw to make sure the liquid cannot be drawn up into the straw.  
  • Tell the children to stop blowing bubbles when the bubbles reach the edge of the pan.


  • The Three Little Kittens by Jerry Pinkney
  • Laundry Day by Maurie J. Manning
  • Henry Helps With Laundry by Beth Bracken
  • Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

Home/School Connections

Las Conexiones a la Casa

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Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS