Summer Learning Activity: Sun Printing

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

Printing With Solar Power

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

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.