Pantry Art

Looking for a rainy day or evening activity for your preschooler or kindergartener? We have a few ideas that will tap into your child’s inner artist, and that will work on fine motor skills. Even better, we made sure that each of these activities can be done with items that you probably already have hanging out in your kitchen pantry. Open up your cabinets and find out how you can turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, with the help of your kiddo.

Old School Pasta Jewelry

Let’s throw it back to the 1980s with a little pasta necklace action. I know it might seem a little boring or old school, but I’ve gotten out some leftover dry pasta and ribbon more times that I can count for my preschool son and it has been a hit every time. What I love about this particular activity is that you can change it up easily so that it feels like a new activity every time you pull it out.

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Today, my son and I colored the pasta by putting a splash of vinegar and food coloring drops into each bag. You can color almost anything (rice, pasta, etc.) this way – roughly 1 cup of pasta with a tablespoon of white vinegar and enough food coloring to give your little artist the desired color. Your child can do all of the pouring and measuring with your supervision, and can mix colors to experiment. Today, my son chose a red bag, a yellow bag, a green bag, and then a bag with every food coloring hue. Once he mixed that bag together, he declared that it was the pasta looked just like green beans and deemed it a good result.

Once you combine your vinegar, pasta, and food coloring, seal up the ziplock bag and do a mix of shaking and squishing to get the color incorporated. Your little one will love this part too. Dump the pasta onto paper towels and let it dry out for a few hours. Then, you are ready to string some sweet neck or wrist wear.

Grab twine, curling ribbon, pipe cleaners or even twist ties – whatever you have lying around – and have your child get to work stringing. Your child will not only be working on artistic expression, but his fine motor skills will be getting a major workout. Remember, fine motor skills come into play with pencil holding, writing and cutting. Introduce or practice pattern skills, or just set up the activity and see which direction your child takes it.2015-02-05 12.30.12.jpg

Don’t have pasta on hand? No worries. This activity is just as sweet with a few handfuls of cereal to string. There’s nothing old school about this retro activity. We’re betting your little one will love it!

Glue By Letter

This winter, we introduced my son to color by number sheets. He loved them, and was able to work independently on a sheet while I prepped dinner or checked my email. A few weeks ago, I was looking for something for us to do while we were trapped inside during a major snowstorm and decided that we could grab a few leftovers from our kitchen cabinets, a glue stick, and a piece of paper to make our own 3D glue-by-number art projects.2015-02-05 13.40.50.jpg

Today, we pulled out some dry red beans and dry lentils. He drew a picture for me and I drew a heart for him, and then we traded. “R” was for red beans and “W” was for the white lentils. Next, follow directions and glue the materials down. Once completed, admire and let dry.

You can do the draw and trade method like we did, or you can ditch the glue-by-number idea all together and just let your artist glue materials where they would like. You can use beans, lentils, leftover candy (perfect for after Halloween), extra colored pasta that you have leftover from necklaces, or anything else you can find. For extra fun, get your child involved in the hunt for materials in your cabinets. 2015-02-05 13.39.38.jpg

Marshmallow Painting

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but we almost always have leftover marshmallows sitting in our kitchen drawer. We buy a bag for s’mores or for hot cocoa, and since no one in our family likes to just munch on marshmallows, the leftovers just hang out and get stale. On another snowy day this month (we live in the Chicagoland suburbs where the term Chiberia is used to compare our weather to that of Siberia), my son pulled out the bag of marshmallows and wondered out loud what we could do with them.

Since we are certainly not going to eat them, we decided that marshmallows would make the perfect thing to paint with. A few drops of different colors of paint on a paper plate, a few marshmallows, and a long piece of butcher paper on our kitchen table were the perfect ingredients for a creative afternoon. While you can use the marshmallows as a stamp, my son had fun dragging the marshmallows along the paper like a paint brush as well. All marshmallows work – from the tiny ones for hot chocolate to the jumbo ones for s’mores. If your child isn’t too big on getting their hands messy, sticking a toothpick in the top of the marshmallow gives a safe place to grab and hold.

Friends, your preschooler doesn’t want the Pinterest perfect activities. He thinks it is awesome (and funny) when you use items from your kitchen in a different way. What will you try with the items in your pantry today?

If your child can’t get enough art, check out art camps near you.