A creative project helps children understand the awe-inspiring effects of the August sun.

Boy in striped shirt printing dinosaur toy on piece of construction paper
Credit: Photograph by Ryan Liebe

Printing With Solar Power

How It's Done:

  1. Using loops of tape on the reverse side, secure construction paper to a table in a sunny spot outdoors (or do it inside by a sunny window).
  2. Lay objects on the paper. Use more tape loops to secure lightweight items (such as the plastic forks shown).
  3. Leave the setup untouched for 4 to 5 hours, checking periodically to remove any blown grass or leaves. Try not to move the objects; by examining the paper, you'll be able to see when the print is sharp and finished.

What's Happening:

Creating these prints, you're witnessing the power of ultraviolet (UV) rays -- the same rays of sunlight that can burn unprotected skin. When the light hits the exposed areas of the construction paper, the UV rays cause a chemical reaction in the paper's colored dye. This reaction breaks down the dye and diminishes its brightness.

Fun Stuff to Print:

  • doll clothes
  • kitchen tools
  • letter magnets
  • action figures
  • nature finds
  • school supplies
  • shapes cut from craft foam or felt

Take It Further:

Use this technique to make a leaf journal. Collect various leaves in your area, make sun prints, and staple the sheets together. Write identifying captions.

Originally published in the August 2015 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

Family Fun