DIY Fingerprint Mold

Our Guest Blogger, Teresa Schoell, is a Certified Child Life Specialist working with pediatric patients and their families in the hospital. She will be sharing a creative way to provide therapeutic activities for families coping with the loss of a loved one.

Materials Needed:

· Model Magic, 1 oz package in white (single-patient use, makes about 5-10 charms, depending on size)

· Markers (I use kid’s washable markers, any brand)

· Small straw (I use a coffee-straw usually, but have made do with a pencil tip or 16 gauge needle)

· Medical gloves

· Portable hard surface (clipboard, back of a tissue box, etc.)


· This is very easy for siblings and kids to participate in – the materials are all kid-safe and easy to work with. I often find joining me for “a craft project” is a wonderful turning point for anxious little ones when their families bring them to the adult ICU to “say goodbye.” Crafts are so normalizing, familiar, and engaging.

· Wear gloves (this keeps your finger prints off the molds, and keeps you from getting marker on your fingers.)

· Roll out small balls (about grape sized, give or take), and gently flatten. Spheres flatten to circles. Tall mini-marshmallow shapes flatten to rounded rectangles (I use the side of a tissue box to straighten the sides a bit after flattening) Get creative with your shapes. I’ve done hearts, crosses, dolphins, and tic-tac-toe boards at patient and family request.

· To add color, I press the tip of the marker into the dough. For a smooth, even color you knead the dough until the color is evenly distributed. For a “swirled” look, just knead a couple times and then roll and flatten.


· You can also color on the patient’s fingertip with the marker, then press it into the white dough. That also looks spectacular! I’ve fallen out of the habit, as the nurses prefer I don’t ink the patient’s fingers. When doing fingers, I try to avoid red (as it may look like blood, especially in trauma cases), and I try to avoid blue (lest it get on the nail and be mistaken for a sign of cyanosis!)

· Place the shapes onto a clipboard, or other portable hard surface, and press the patient’s finger into the dough. If a family has asked for multiples, I’ll often shape them all and line them up, then press the finger into each, all on one go. This efficient process is especially helpful if the patient is very tired, and won’t have the endurance to offer up a finger every two minutes as each new shape is prepped. I also prefer this when doing them in the morgue with a patient who has already died – both because it’s faster and the morgue tends to be very chilly. If you have to work within the cooler, the dough can get stiff when cold, so I will set them all up on the clipboard outside the cooler, pop in and press the fingers, then back out to make the holes.


· After pressing the finger, use the coffee straw to make a small hole near the top (this is used to string the medallion on a necklace, if desired. (or key chain, or no hole for a pocket stone, etc.)

· The finished items air dry over the next 24 hours. I will often place them in a kidney basin for safe transport. If I’m doing a whole bunch, I’ll slid a piece of cardboard into a “sheet protector” sleeve, and place the patient’s ID sticker on the cardboard inside. Then line of up the finished medallions on top to dry. This way the family can carry the full bunch without them smooshing together. I learned the hard way – do NOT put them on paper to dry!!

· Really large pieces (like full hand prints) can warp a bit as they dry.

· Photos show one of my favorite combinations of shape and swirl color. Toddlers love to help by stabbing the dough with market tips. And then knead-twice-and-roll lets them press all the colors in without it combining to a greyish-brown.


· To start the dough feels like a cross between play dough and a marshmallow. Once dry it is light like Styrofoam, with a smooth surface.

Other questions that came up…

You can do these on adults, kids, babies. For peri-natal loss situations with super early babies that have not yet grown much in the way of skin . . . I’m not sure. I haven’t tried this. The dough is not “sticky” so I am hopeful that it would work. If someone tries it, please post back and let us all know!

For newborns and preemies, one packet would be more than enough to do a baby foot print. But remember that larger pieces can warp a bit while drying. I’ve had some (but not perfect success) flipping the piece over every couple hours while it dries, to reduce the warp.

No baking needed – they air dry.

I color it while making it. I have never tried coloring it afterward. Again, if someone tries it, please post back and share the info!

Creative child lifers, post your photos to the thread and share your ideas for styles, use of color, shapes, etc.

Teresa Schoell, MA, CCLS

Related Articles

Helping Our Kids Understand Death

How We Helped Our Kids Cope with a Pet Loss

Drowning in Grief

5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids About Art


5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids About Art.jpg

Guest Blogger, Lizzie Weakley

Art can create a world that exists only in the confines of one’s heart. It gives young people the chance to fall in love with something that will reside with them for a lifetime. Art is not only successful as a form of entertainment but as a workshop to channel the intuitive mind. Some people shun intuitive thought, but the beauty in teaching children about the breadth and potential of art is priceless. Below are just a few reasons you should teach your kids about art.

1. Expression

Effective art communicates ideas, feelings, and dreams for the future. Children are still developing and visual art can give them the tools they need to convey their thoughts without the use of words. Painting, drawing and making handcrafts can redirect negative energy into something positive. This is great for children struggling with frustration, sadness, and chaotic emotions.

2. Confidence

When a child creates, they’re bound to experience a swell of pride in their accomplishment. The influence of peers and media can make young people feel ostracized and weak, but art has the power to build an inner power. Whether you magnet a finger painting to your fridge or use a metallic frame from places like Kelly Gallery, supporting your child’s artistic pursuits is important.

3. Wisdom

Art is suffused with passion, making it a masterful instructor. Whether its music, film, literature, animation or video games, art has the power to teach in a way that’s unique and striking. Showing your children a wide breadth of art can help them become more knowledgeable of the world and different ideologies, which is vital to helping them forge their own opinions and sense of self.

4. Grace

From the elegant flit of a dancer’s limbs to the soft lines of a hand-drawn animation cell, the graceful presence within art has the power to calm and improve focus. If you have a child that is hyperactive or anxious, the silken tone of the music and charming images can help her feel centered and peaceful. Since artistic activities are often sedentary, they give kids a moment to understand the importance of quiet movement and thought.

5. Individuality

Society tends to foster the concept that certain people are superior to others based on their personality type, appearance, and other status symbols. Exposing children to art can help them develop a sensitivity to others and a genuine interest in kindness and honesty. It helps children understand the beauty of oddities, and allows them to embrace themselves so that they don’t have to build up ego of false pretense.

Regardless of age or gender, art is for everyone. There are many reasons to promote art appreciation in your household, but perhaps the biggest is that it will make you form a stronger bond with your kids. If you take the time to engage in art projects with young ones, you’ll be creating memories that will last indefinitely.

ArtWorks The Naomi Cohain Foundation

Creative expression is an amazing way to help children and adolescents cope with challenges in their lives, especially when it comes to their health. Child life specialists use creative arts as a therapeutic intervention to help patients process their experience, gain control, build resiliency, and provide a sense of normalcy in a clinical setting.

I am excited to feature ArtWorks The Naomi Cohain Foundation on the blog today as they have been providing child life programs and patients with amazing service. I had the pleasure to work with ArtWorks while working in the hospital and was blown away by their dedication, professionalism, and empathy for our patients and families. I am sure you will feel that same way after reading about their program.

ArtWorks Color Logo

“ArtWorks, founded in 2002, is a creative arts organization supporting children battling chronic and life-threatening conditions.  Partnering with over 50 hospitals and healthcare organizations, in New York and New Jersey, ArtWorks reaches over 20,000 young artists annually.  

ArtWorks The Naomi Cohain FoundationFocusing on building resiliency and celebrating the creativity within each child, ArtWorks offers several programs that are open to patients, and their siblings, 0-24 years old and is at no cost to them.  Express Yourself, hosted biannually in NY and NJ, offers an event to showcase the incredible talents of our community.  Young artists contribute their visual artwork, which is professionally hung and framed, as well as a performance artist,  present live with a  professional sound and lighting crew.  Close to 150 pieces of art and 25 performances are enjoyed by over 300 families and supporters.  Also at the showcase are art activities, light refreshments and VIP offerings such as a red carpet and giveaways!  ArtWorks was founded with the first Express Yourself show and this past May we hosted our 25th show!  It is a joy for ArtWorks to welcome back participants every year and introduce new faces to our annual tradition!  After the show, masterpieces are often seen installed in hospitals and companies through the Traveling Art Show.  The Express Yourself shows demonstrate the importance of applauding the efforts of our artists, providing a sense of normalcy and bringing families together for something not medically invasive but amazingly heartwarming.

ArtWorkds Express YourselfOffering patients and families the venue to share their talents is important to ArtWorks but so is providing the tools to create.  The Surprise!Supplies program has launched 32 art carts in 26 hospitals.  These one of a kind pieces of fine craftsmanship, stand about three feet tall and house a full array of artist implements.  From crayons, paper and scissors to craft kits, modeling clay and glitter glue, every cart is replenished three times a year and can be utilized day or night!  Decorated by world-renowned pop artist, Ed Heck, each cart has a custom design that is hospital compliant and a bright staple in so many hospital units.  Volunteers throughout the county have gotten involved by holding art supply collections to contribute to these vibrant carts evoking happiness and creative thought!  Anyone can host a drive year around and no supplies are too small or too great!  When giving these resources, ArtWorks is reminded how often the right instrument can inspire a world of distraction from pain and isolation and world of imagination! 

ArtWorks Collage ArtWorks’ newest program is the Intensive Creative Artist in Residence “ICAIR” Program, introducing professional working artist into hospitals.  Screened, trained and insured artists are able to work both beside with patients and families as well as in small groups.  The current roster of artists includes beatboxers, storytellers, animators, photographers, graffiti artists, percussionists, muralists and so much more!  Each ICAIR residency is custom fit for the uniqueness of the facility and is built be an extension of the child life teams.  Some assignments are a summer series of six workshops and others have been a consistent weekly presence for four years!  

ArtWorks 1

 With .89 for every dollar raised, ArtWorks ensures that their resources are directly going to the young artist we serve.  Making a huge impact in programs with limited child life staff or providing a value add to robust hospital teams, ArtWorks can meet the creative goals and impact positive change in any pediatric setting.  To learn more about ArtWorks, check out or contact them at 201.608.0146.  ArtWorks Executive Director, Amy Sokal, shares “Partnering with leaders in the parenting and child life space, like Shani of Child Life Mommy, allow us to evolve with our partners and stay current on trends and important expansions that will help in sharing the healing power of the arts!”