Printmaking – Food Art

Time 30 minutes
Age 5-7
Group Size 4 or more
Tags Art, Food, Individual,   more...

Find the beauty hidden all around you!

Print making is the process of transferring an impression from 1 object onto the surface of another. In this activity, students will learn that a single object can be used to make infinite images of that object. They will gain a basic understanding of the printing process and will explore the printing possibilities of natural objects, specifically familiar fruits and vegetables. Printing with these items will also help students sharpen their observation skills as the results will accentuate details they may not have noticed before.


Purchase a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some good choices are apples, oranges, star fruits, kiwi fruits, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, green peppers, avocados and pomegranates. Prepare the fruits and vegetables by cutting them in half. Some foods (like apples and oranges) look different if you cut them from top to bottom than they do if you cut them from side to side. Try both and have children observe the differences. Cut the fruits (especially the citrus fruits) a few hours ahead of time so that they dry out a bit.

Squirt a small amount of each color of paint onto a few plates and spread the paint out on the plate. When you distribute the paint, have 4–6 students share a set of plates with different colors. Do not prep these plates too far in advance—the paint will dry up! Place newspaper on the tables to keep them clean.

Printmaking – Food Art

Suggested Materials

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Water-based paint (like tempera or poster paint), or block-printing ink (several colors)
  • Paper
  • Paintbrushes (1 per student)
  • Paper or plastic plates (30)
  • Knife (for the program leader)
  • Newspaper

Make it Matter

Opening Discussion

Ask your students if they have ever made a “print” before (if you have done the Print Making activity, you can ask them about the objects they used to make prints.) What is a print? A “print” is an image that is created when a stamper or object is inked and pressed onto paper. Can they think of something they have seen before that was printed?

The Challenge

Create colorful prints using fruits and vegetables!


Make it Happen

Doing the Activity

  1. Students should work individually or in pairs for this activity.
  2. Show children the fruits and vegetable halves you have prepared for then. Make sure there is at least 1 half per student. Distribute the plates with the paint on them (a plate of each color for every 4-6 students to share).
  3. To make their prints, students should carefully press the cut side of the vegetable or fruit they are using into the paint. They can then firmly but carefully press the inked food onto their piece of paper and lift it up.

Make it Click

Let’s Talk About It

After each student has created a print or two, bring the whole group together to talk about what they have tried. What did they notice? Did anyone try something that made an interesting print? Did anyone discover something that made their print turn out differently than they had expected? What happens if you use too much ink? What about multiple colors? What happens if you press down too hard on the piece of fruit or vegetable, especially soft ones like mushrooms or kiwi fruit?


Make it Better

Build On What They Talked About

Send students back to make some more prints. When they are done, invite them to tape their prints up on the wall, and ask kids to look at everyone else’s prints.


Some other ideas for making prints with food:

  • Fish Printing – That’s right—fish printing. This is actually a traditional Japanese art form, and creates really amazing prints. In addition, making these prints gets kids looking closely at fish anatomy. To make fish prints, purchase 1-3 small to medium-sized fish (no bigger than the paper you’ll use—and not alive!). You’ll first need to thoroughly clean the fish in warm, soapy water or a mild vinegar solution. Clean carefully (you don’t want to lose any scales) until the fish doesn’t feel slimy. It might take a few rounds of cleaning. Rinse the soap off and lay the fish down on some newspaper or paper towels and dry it completely. To make a print, use a soft 1″ paintbrush and apply a THIN coat of paint to the surface of the fish, from the head to the tail. Paint the tail and fins last, just before making the print. Move the fish to a clean piece of newspaper and lay it down, paint side facing up. Do this all quickly so that the paint does not dry. Students should then apply their piece of paper to the painted fish, carefully (so they don’t smudge it) but firmly press the paper to the fish, making sure to touch all parts, and then peel the paper off from head to tail. There you have it – a beautiful fish print!
  • Cut some large potatoes in half. Hold the cut surfaces on a paper towel to remove any extra moisture. Have students draw any shape they would like on the flat, cut part of the potato. Make sure that the drawings are simply shapes at first like circles, stars, hearts, etc. You (the program leader) should then scrape or cut away all of the potato except the part that the students drew. They can then use these potatoes like stamps, pressing them into ink on a plate and then pressing the inked potato onto a piece of paper.
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