Art Lesson – Painting With Food!

I am going to try to focus on writing down my art lessons that I create with my wonderful pre-school students! All of my lessons are focused around creating awesome art experiences with children ages 2-6. I am a big advocate for expression art – where the child creates the art work regardless of “what it looks like.” I love some all look the same art crafts, but that’s just what they are – crafts. Children strive to create things just on their own terms which means every single art piece is different.

This particular lesson was a great success last year! In honor of Thanksgiving coming up and this preschool has what they call a “Green Grocer” come to school to teach about good food choices and they get to go shopping in their own little grocery store, it’s very cute, we are going to experience painting with different food items. I use carrots, celery, and potatoes.

Here’s what you need:

  • Any paper (that goes with paint colors) I have to have enough for over 75 kids each week! I decided to use a hard stock white.
  • Paint – orange, green, & brown
  • Old carrots, celery, and potatoes (cut in half long enough to use as paint brushes)
  • Containers to put paint in
  • Plastic sheets to cover tables
  • Covering for under the tables
  • Art shirts
  • Container with soap and water to wash hands, towels to dry
  • Separate container to put used vegetables – wash after each class

This of course can be done with 1 child or 100 just plan accordingly. Each food item is cut in half to give a nice base for them to paint with or use a stamp. I had to plan accordingly because I teach 6 different classes and my biggest is 18 so I needed to make sure I had 18 pieces of each food item. If you are doing this at home, it’s super easy just save old leftover veggies that you would normally just throw out. If you want to get real adventurous, peppers work great, cucumbers, broccoli, corn on the cob, etc. let you imagination go crazy!

Here is the instruction for each class:

Every time the students have art class, I ask them to sit on the floor next to the tables. I already have all the tables set up ready for the first task. This way all the students can get into the classroom and there isn’t a large rush to the tables. Plus this gives them a task that as the year goes on they will know what to do and sit down before the activity. I talk to them for a minute, explain what we are doing for the day, and give them certain rules as to how the class will go. During this time, like today, we also put on art shirts. Art shirts can be any old over large t-shirt you might have. They are always washed after each art day ready to go for the next time we paint. Here are this lessons instructions:

  1. We will focus on one color at a time with a couple different pieces of food.
  2. First, we will start with orange paint (carrots) and see how this will paint or stamp on their paper. Instruct the students (or child) to try to hold the carrot like you would a pencil or paintbrush. Dip the carrot into the orange paint like you would a paintbrush and either stamp or “brush” the carrot across your paper. This is fun because you can see if the carrot will make a certain shape or just a blob on the paper.
  3. Then we will work with green paint (celery). Do the same instruction as carrots. Because having so many students at one time doing the same task, we really work on our listening and patience skills. The kids did a great job dumping their used carrots into the bucket and waiting on me to pass out the paint and new painting instrument. Being pregnant and having major back pains, this was nice because it was a constant movement and set up, lol.
  4.  Then finally with brown paint (potatoes). Some of the kids really enjoyed this one. The potato acts like a stamp and put a large circle on their paper. Some, like my son, ended up swirling it all over the paper and causing the whole thing to turn brown, lol. But he enjoyed it the whole time so it didn’t matter how it turned out. Again with expression art, being able to see each student’s mind as they create their own individual art work is something that brings me great joy! I love my job!
  5. Why I decided to create each color/vegetable separately was because last year, I sort of did a rotation with the colors an if a child started out with brown paint there was really no hope for the other two colors. This way by separating the colors not only helped some of their papers but also helped not to  change the color in the paint dishes. I found myself having to wash out the orange dishes and filling it with new paint throughout the day, this way I only washed once! Even though I had to wash 24 containers 😦 LOL!

Here is some of the kids in action, they had so much fun!


I love this art activity because it not only gave the students a different experience painting with something that some probably have never tried, but also gives them another direction on painting their artwork. My main focus for art class is to expose the children that you just do not have to paint with paintbrushes, that you can explore all sorts of materials to paint with. I hope you enjoy the art lessons I provide and experience these same experiences with your own children!

Here is some pictures of their finished art work:



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