I’ve been having fun on our learning ventures lately. Toby has enjoyed learning about bugs, and exploring empathy, and a host of other things that I haven’t had opportunity to blog about. But this fingerprint activity was definitely a hit. And I guess I know why — it is messy! Well, for your fingers, at least. Assuming your child knows not to smear the ink everywhere, this fingerprint activity shouldn’t be too much in the clean up department.
So, to learn about fingerprints, I got out our rubber stamp collection. And some ink pads. If you don’t already have these supplies on hand, here are some ideas to get you started (#afflinks):
- Melissa & Doug Alphabet Stamp set
- Ink and stamp set (18 stamps)
- Speedball Speedy Carve Stamp Making Kit (this looks neat!)
- Melissa & Doug Stamp-a-Scene-Fairy Garden
- 6 Color Rainbow Stamp Pad
- Washable Green Stamp Pad
Ok, now we’ve got the materials covered. Let me explain what we did. If your child is older, and wants to experiment with lifting fingerprints from surfaces, there are a few “at home” tutorials on dusting and collecting fingerprints. But I decided we’d focus on the concept instead.
Now, you may be wondering why I got out the rubber stamps when fingerprints are the purported subject. Well, my son doesn’t always like to get messy, so it gave us an entry into my planned activities. Plus, we could see how applying different amounts of ink and different levels of pressure would impact the final print.
Stamps have more negative space than a fingerprint, so it’s also harder for a toddler to smear the ink into a blurred blob. I showed Toby how my fingerprint looked in ink — and not surprisingly, it was much clearer than his own attempts (for two reasons). First, kids have smaller fingers. And then there’s that smearing/precision factor I just mentioned.
So, while Toby happily dotted his fingerprints all over the paper, we talked about fingerprints. I kept it simple, going into detail as his interest guided me. Some things I was prepared to talk about included the following:
- everyone has their own special fingerprints
- no two sets of fingerprints are alike (even that of identical twins)
- animal paw prints (hey, our cats are like family to us)
- fingerprint ridge patterns: arches, loops, whorls (here’s a PDF about ridge patterns from ScienceSpot.net’s Fingerprinting unit)
- repeating patterns, variations, etc
We could have ended our learning activity at this point, but since Toby wanted to revisit the next day, I decided to enlarge some fingerprints. I printed out one the size of a sheet of paper, and then made up a fingerprint “poster” so that we had two options for coloring and even cutting up into a puzzle. Here are the two printables:
Toby had lots of fun with this. If your child is interested, the larger printable would be perfect for examining fingerprint ridge patterns. You could even use a sheet of tracing paper (or parchment paper) laid over top to practice tracing skills.
Overall, we both enjoyed learning about fingerprints, and Toby even remembered that Zebras can be identified by their stripes, just like fingerprints (thanks to his Zoo Books magazines!). Now, make sure to take a peek at the images below; click on an image to enter gallery view mode!
This post is part of the A-Z STEM Series (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) for Kids.
Throughout January, many wonderful bloggers are working their way through the alphabet of great kids STEM activities perfect for home or school.
These kids STEM activities will be specifically geared for preschool through early elementary ages. Each letter of the alphabet will be represented with a different STEM activity for science, technology, engineering, and math.
By the end of the month, you will have an amazing resource to use with your students and/or children!