One of my favorite parts of summer is Painting Vegetables & Fruit and following my children around the yard barefoot, especially to check on our garden. There is something so peaceful and serene about being in nature and feeling the ground under your feet. There are numerous benefits you get from being out in nature. Ranging from physically exploring through play, to sensory and emotional connectivity through touch, feel, sound, etc., when going out and just listening to the world around you. Isn’t it amazing? But what do we do in the hottest parts of the summer when we need a little break from the heat? We head inside of course, and pull out the art supplies!
Painting with Vegetables & Fruit!
Yes! I said painting with vegetables and fruit! It is such a fun activity that kids not only love but has so many benefits for their growth and development. Painting with vegetables is such an easy, no-hassle activity for both you and the kids! First, find some veggies that are all different shapes and sizes. This way your child(ren) is getting the benefits of everything from small & gross motor development, sensory development, hand-eye coordination, and so much more! Which I will go into further detail below.
List of veggies for this project:
Celery: Wrap two rubber bands around each end tight enough to hold and cut in half so that child can dip the ends in the paint like a stamp.
Mushrooms: Cut in half with the top up to capture the perfect mushroom shape, also using it like a stamp.
Strawberries: Take a strawberry and cut it in half holding it upright to get the perfect strawberry shape.
Romaine Lettuce: Take two or three rubber bands and wrap them around the lettuce to hold it in place and cut to make two or three stamps. With this one, we like to stamp with it but also place it on the paper and spin. Makes for a pretty flower-like shape.
Orange: Cut in half to use as a round-shaped stamp.
Potato: Cut in half and use as a stamp. If you have fun-shaped cookie cutters, you can also press that into the potato to make a more stamp-like shape but leaving it natural is fun too!
Apple: Cut in half standing up and take the seeds out. This makes such a pretty apple shape and if you help your child brush some of the paint off you can capture the image where the seeds once were.
Broccoli: Get a fresh head of broccoli and break it up a little. This acts as a fun brush or a speckled stamp—super fun for making trees or clouds.
Benefits of painting with children:
+ CREATIVITY. Painting with vegetables and fruit is fun for kids! A blank canvas or sheet of paper, and a plate full of solid colors to imagine, explore, and
create anything that their sweet little heart’s desire. Helping give your child the tools to explore and play pretend on their own helps build up their creativity and imagination.
+ LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT. Painting with veggies and fruitbuilds their language skills. It can be used as a way for a child to share their emotions or what they would like to say without having to say it.
+ FINE MOTOR SKILLS DEVELOPMENT. Painting with vegetables and fruit helps children grow strength in the smaller muscles in their hands. This is great for the development and strengthening of fine motor skills, and leads to improving hand-eye coordination, which is next up!
+ HAND-EYE COORDINATION. Painting with veggies and fruit and using them like a “stamp”, especially in the early toddler to preschool years, can help children improve and grow their hand-eye coordination, by holding the item, dipping it in the paint, and then dabbing it on the paper where they want. Another way to add to this is to paint the rim of a cup and stamp it on the page to make circles for the child to aim and stamp their veggie/fruit into.
+ SENSORY DEVELOPMENT. Painting, especially with veggies/fruit, awakens a child’s senses. From seeing their own artwork come to life, touching different textures from the vegetables and dabbing them into the cold wet paint, to hearing the crunch of the celery or lettuce, and smelling the fresh veggies mixed with the paint aroma. As you can see this is a high level of sensory exploration for children. Of course, I should mention, if we are painting with younger kids (ages 1-3), we will want to get nontoxic paint because if your children are anything like mine, they might also think the veggies are a snack to taste!
+ BEHAVIORAL SKILLS. Painting with kids in my experience is a little stressful sometimes, especially with multiple. One thing I have noticed through my experience as a mama of 5, and my history of working with children, is that although painting may be a little stressful to me (cue full paint tray flying across the room), children always seem to relax. The stress is taken away and they escape into their own little concentration bubble, their moods lighten. They become so joyful creating, exploring, and going on their own little art adventure. Painting has been known to help with behavioral skills and I have been fortunate enough to witness it first-hand. I encourage you to experience it too.
+ CONCENTRATION. As stated in the behavior skills section, kids escape the real world for a little while when they paint. This is helping their concentration skills so much. In a world where concentration seems to be depleting, painting, especially with fun utensils like veggies/fruit, can help improve concentration and focus.
+ GROSS MOTOR SKILLS. Finally, gross motor skills. I find this is not always activated while painting but for the younger ones it usually is. Kids tend to stand and sit and move while doing art and painting. By getting a large piece of paper or tag board it helps the child get even more creative and activate those gross motor muscles, plus it is fun to see what kind of art and movement the children are doing while getting into their creative zone!
As you can see the benefits of painting, and in this case painting with vegetables is almost endless. I could go on and on, but for now, I am going to give you a quick supply list so that you can help your child get moving right away!
+ Paper (mixed media paper is a little thicker, and I prefer it)
+ Tagboard (Optional)
+ Non-Toxic Paint (Taste safe for the little ones)
+ Small variety of veggies (listed above)
+ Art apron
+ Old newspaper to layout to keep things a little tidier.
+ Paint brushes to help spread the paint more evenly.
+ Paper towels
Stephanie Lapinksi is a mother of five from a small town in Wisconsin. She is a homeschooler with a background is in early childhood education and wellness.