Picture Book-Inspired Scratch Board Art Project

After making our own scratch boards, we used the textures in the picture book as inspiration for our own etchings.

The Caldecott Award-winning book The House in the Night is illustrated with scratch art as it tells a story with the feel of “This is the House That Jack Built.” As we poured over the textured images, we were impressed with the ways that lines created texture to look like birds’ wings or tree leaves. After being inspired by this picture book, we decided to try our own hand at in a scratch board art project.

Scratch Board Art

I don’t know how the author and illustrator, Susan Marie Swanson, created her scratch boards for her book. We were lucky to find some black scratch boards for sale, both in a one-page kit (with an image printed on it to scrape away) and in a booklet of scratch board images for little kids to enjoy.

These scratch board art pages had a colorful array hiding underneath a solid thick black substance. It was easy to scrap away the black to see the bright colors underneath. The single page (made for adults) had a sharp metal scraper. The kids booklet came with a pointed wooden stylus.

Using a pre-printed scratch board is fun, but we wanted to have a little more freedom in our own scratch board art project.


Strawberry and I enjoyed scratching away at the pages, but we decided to try our hand at making our own scratch boards.

Making Our Own Scratch Board

We began by coloring a page with waxy crayons. The wax provided a resistant layer for the next layer. Strawberry colored her page in pink crayon. I made a rainbow. I taped my paper to the table to keep it in place.

After we colored the page with crayons, I mixed tempura paint with a bit of dish soap. I used black paint and Strawberry used red paint. It needed a second coat, but Strawberry was eager to get scratching, so we only did one.

We made our own scratch boards with crayons and paint.

It was hard to get the paint to stay on the page because of the wax! In the future I may put more dish soap in the paint mixture. Here are a few sites with this paint recipe.

Our Scratch Board Art Projects

It took at least a day for our paint to dry. Then it was time to start scratching! I wanted to be directly inspired by the book, so I attempted to scratch off the shape of the bird flying through the sky. My daughter helped me build some patterns on her page.

I should note that the paint does flake off in this do-it-yourself version. Scraping textures and shapes is not as smooth as using one of the purchased boards. It will not be a perfect product. But, art with young children is never going to look perfect. You can’t make a mistake in scratch board art!

I loved how I could imitate the lines that the artist used in order to get similar patterns for trees and wings. It was a fun art project to do with my preschooler!

Patterns gave our pictures texture on our homemade scratch boards in this picture book-inspired art project.

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