Invitation to Play and Learn with Plastic Food Painting

May 23, 2013

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With both a toddler and a preschooler in the house, it can be difficult finding collaborative activities for them both that doesn't result in my 4 year old declaring that her 18 month old brother is "wrecking everything!" 
They both love to paint though and when the experience is more about the process than the product, I find they are both able to have a great time creating and learning together.

Today we had some simple explorative painting and printing fun with plastic food.

Ages: 1+
(M=4, N=18 months)

 Materials: Paint (we used a good washable paint with our toddler), a variety of plastic food and paper.

Before setting out this activity I had the children sort through their plastic food to find and collect objects that they thought could make an interesting shape or pattern when printed with.
We then sorted and divided them (for a little extra learning) into 2 categories, "fruit/veg" and "other" foods.

The Invitation to Create

Maddie learnt quickly the art of printing is not to have too much paint on the item otherwise you don't get a good print.

Talk about the colours and the food items as they experience them to teach or consolidate knowledge.

Rolly polly grapes. The different shapes of the materials determined how the children interacted with them.

Setting it out on a low table in the middle of the floor allowed them to move freely around the table to utilise different areas of the paper and easily access materials.

This activity can give you a good chance to talk about healthy eating and different types of foods.

Messy, colourful, creative, sensory fun.

She marvelled at the mixing and swirling of the colours

All done

Who can wash the paint off the plastic food? The kids can!

Dry and currently on the wall. We plan to cut out shapes later to use for making cards and bits and pieces.

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by providing fewer paint colours and materials. 2 different colours and a couple of basic shapes is a good starting point. Or, simplify it even further by providing a single colour paint exploration.

- Extend this activity by challenging children to create patterns considering the different colours and materials available to them. What different patterns can they create? You could also ask them about what each shape reminds them of and what those shapes could be used for to create a picture.

- Good to Know. Try to choose plastic food that is sealed so that no paint gets inside. That way you'll easily be able to clean the paint off and reuse your plastic food as normal.

Talk with your child about what they are doing while they are doing it. A simple commentary such as, "You chose the cheese. It is a triangle shape. Which colour will you choose? Blue!" etc. will help them to make the connections between what they are doing and the terminology used to describe it. 

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "print", "mix", "swirl" "pattern" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Still feeling creative? Here are a few of our other arty ideas for kids. 
(click on the pictures to go to the post)

 art for kids, fun art, canvas art   painting activity, kids activity, activity for kids  activities for kids  kids art

Happy creating,
Debs :)

We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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  1. What a brilliant idea! Not many parents would think of using those common plastic fruits to paint with but they would wash up well and the creativity is well worth it. Your kids did a great job!!!

    1. haha, thanks Kate. We definitely like to utilise the materials we already have on hand so that we can have a range of experiences without having to constantly buy new materials.

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  2. Oh, this is very Pro-Hart!

    Can't wait to try it.

  3. featured you this week on the kids co-op :-)

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