Kids, play with your food. Contrary to what mothers and fathers tell their children at the dinner table growing up, turns out playing with your food is a great tactile and motor skill activity for your toddler and a creative outlet for your middle-schooler that isn’t an app. Cut the kids some slack with this project and let them enjoy their vegetables one way or another. Let’s get started.
What you need:
-Fruit and vegetables of your choice
-Tempera or washable finger paint
-Rags or paper towels
-Blade, cutting board, and a straight edge or scissors
-Hot glue gun
Involve the kids and let them pick their fruit or vegetable. The market is full of stimuli that will hit all the senses. Talk to them about how the vegetable or the fruit are different in size, color, shape, and skin texture. For your project however, pick fruit that won’t dilute your paint and ones that have beautiful cross-sections. Apples, onions, and citrus are all good choices. Mushrooms and a cabbage will do, but the size will be too hard for the children to hold. If you would like to make your own pattern, potatoes can be carved to any pattern you like.
When you get home, cut the fruit and/or vegetable for them and set aside one half (or let them eat it) while letting them inspect the other. Whether or not they can bear the smell of the onion or inspect it through the tears remains to be seen. Cut the produce into lengthwise and/or crosswise sections to see which one has a more interesting design. Cover your work area with newspapers and your little artist with a smock. It will get messy.
Pick the paint colors together and put a dollop in each paper plate. Get stamping, one sheet at a time. Dip the fruit, cut side down, on to the paint. Blot excess on the rag or paper towel and stamp away (although little ones are sure to skip the blotting step). For the older kids, they can make patterns on the entire surface of the paper or a design in one area to make it look like stationery. Make art and create scenes or characters out of the designs. A stamp of a bell pepper cross-section makes a four-leaf clover, for example.
Whatever they create, nature has already given them a jump-start with its own beautiful patterns within the fruit.
Take their artwork a step further and make notepads out of it. Cut the stamped paper in uniform sizes, big enough to still see the fruit or vegetable stamps. Use as template and cut any cardboard to match. Stack them neatly with the cardboard at the bottom of the stack and clip together. Apply hot glue along the top edge. Spread out evenly by running the glue gun’s applicator on the glue while hot. Let dry. You’re done. You’re out of milk, you say? Lucky you, you got a newly minted DIY notepad on which to write your grocery list.
Look at you with your recycled paper notepad and reusable bags reducing your carbon footprint with your very creative kids in tow. Head to Central Market on 4001 N. Lamar Blvd or 4477 S. Lamar Blvd and marvel at the plethora of produce. You might find grapes that taste like cotton candy, mint that tastes like chocolate, or an ugly fruit whose name you can’t pronounce. No matter the season, there’s always something to discover.