Don't you love free stuff? Of course you do! It's part of your teacher chromosome! ;) I thought I would share this technique because it is essentially free, and it's working so well for me. I heard about this from Debi West, a fabulous superwoman art teacher from Georgia. She suggested making liquid watercolors from "dried out" markers. All you have to do is take the lids off the markers and soak the tips in water. It took me a bit of experimenting to perfect the ratio of ink to water. I found that it worked best filling these square cups to the line and then putting in as many markers of one color as I could. The watercolor paint can be diluted more if you want a pastel look, but I prefer the color be as bright as possible. I then pour the colors into seperate larger bottles for storage. (****UPDATE: If you have a pair of pliers, you can actually take the marker apart and remove the foamy ink reservoir, then put just THAT into the water. That works even better, I've found!****)
When I let the kids paint, I fill squeeze bottles (the kind with the twisty lids that are made to hold glue work best)with the liquid and they can refill their palettes themselves. The students always ask me how I make the paint and they are amazed about the markers. I've also found that the other teachers at my school are happy to give me boxes of used up markers that they haven't thrown away. I guess holding on to supplies so they can be recycled is another part of the teacher personality. Once or twice a year I'll email everyone and say, "You know that tub of markers that barely work that has been taking up space in your cabinets? I'll be glad to take it off your hands!" I always get pounds and pounds of them.
One thing to be aware of is that the paint in the bigger bottles can get a little smelly every once in a while, just like tempera paint. I usually fix that problem by squirting a significant amount of Germ-x into the paint, and shaking it up. Maybe that isn't the best way but it works for me. In my opinion, this is a minor problem considering that this stuff is free, easy to obtain, and the resulting paintings are beautiful. The projects you could do with liquid watercolors are infinite.