Food Printing

 Aim of the game:

Sensory play, messy play and mark making is great for children’s development. This activity will help to nurture your child’s creative side and activate the senses offering great opportunities for language learning. Mark making is a term used to describe creating different patterns, lines, shapes and scribbles but is the beginning of writing and literacy development.

Put simply, you will be chopping up fruit and vegetable items, dipping them in paint and making a lovely colourful, creative mess! 

  Remember to use toddler safe, non toxic paints (or make your own) and closely supervise them.

  Be mindful of allergies. Always follow your Doctor’s advice and avoid any foods or products which your child may be sensitive or allergic to.


 What you will need:

  Something to contain the mess! Things we’ve found that are useful include oil table cloths, old bed sheets and towels. You may also want to strip your toddler down to their nappy or put a paint apron on them. 

 Fruit or veg that makes good, interesting shapes on paper with paint. We suggest trying apples, pears, peppers, oranges, limes, lemons, potatoes, miniature pumpkin or squash varieties, celery, okra, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Don’t go overboard with choice for your toddler. One to three different types per activity is plenty, too many could be overwhelming.

 A knife and chopping board for cutting up your food, making sure this is kept well out of your child’s reach.

Paint – there are recipes for edible finger paint using cornflour and food colouring available on the internet if you want to get really creative. Otherwise, toddler safe non-toxic finger paints are best. Make sure you have a few colours to choose from, we suggest starting with the primary colours (red, blue, yellow).

 Something to print onto. This could be sheets of paper or some parents like painting onto paper plates and even onto textile materials or clothes. 



 How to play:

  • Things are about to get messy, so we recommend stripping your child down to their nappy so you can pop them in the bath to clean them off afterwards. 
  • Chop your chosen items of fruit or veg before hand so you can keep any sharp objects out of your toddler’s reach. Make sure you cut them in such a way that they will create an interesting pattern on paper (e.g. apples slice lengthwise but lemons and oranges in half crosswise). 
  • Prepare the paints putting each of your chosen colours in separate containers (paper plates are good for this).
  • Sit face to face with your child – you can do this at the table or on the floor. This is the best position for your child to see and hear you and for you to see how and what they are communicating.
  • Let your child choose which food item they want to use and model the language for them (e.g. ‘apple…you want apple….let’s print apple’)
  • Do the same with the paint, allow them to choose the colour and model the language for them as they (with your help) dip the food into the paint placing it cut side down (e.g. ‘red… apple in red…dip, dip, dip… apple’)
  • Help your child to stamp the food onto the paper paint side down, again modelling language as you go (e.g. ‘let’s stamp… ready…stamp!’) pushing down firmly
  • Lift away to leave a clear imprint and show enthusiasm and surprise at your child’s creation continuing to model the key language (e.g. ‘wow… red apple!’)
  • Continue until your child has finished their picture.




 How to extend:

  • Role modelling the language is key during the activity. There is a lot to talk about such as the food items, action words and colours. Make sure you keep your language simple so your child can easily learn it from you. We suggest matching your language to your child’s level plus one word. For example, if your child is saying single words then use single words and two word phrases to comment on what they are doing (e.g. ‘apple…red paint… dip dip… red apple…stamp apple!’). This helps to reinforce the language they are already using show them how to extend their language to move onto the next step.
  • Integrate the Choices game to reinforce language learning and encourage your child to verbally request (e.g. ‘apple or orange?’, ‘red or yellow?’ etc). 
  • Explore the foods before hand by smelling them and feeling their texture. This allows the opportunity for introducing different vocabulary (e.g. ‘bumpy’, ‘smooth’, ‘cold’, ‘squishy’ etc) and activating the senses strengthens word learning.
  • Create crafts out of your food printing – make cards or pictures for relatives and friends or display it around the home. This allows your child to feel proud of their work and you can encourage them to talk about what they have made.
  • Go outside! In the warmer months this is a great way of limiting the mess and giving your child the opportunity to see how sunlight can reflect differently off food items, paint colours and materials.




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