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The Creative Corner: "Art and Go Seek"

using oranges to make prints

Home Learning  |  The Creative Corner

Episode 6: Join Lauren Paullin as she conducts a scavenger hunt around her house to find all kinds of things that can be used to make pictures, prints, paints, and even musical instruments! Learn how to make a mixed media collage and print with fruits and vegetables. Learn from New Orleans based musician, artist and cultural diplomat  Charles Burchell how to turn ordinary objects like glasses, wood, plastic and even paper into musical instruments. Developed for grades 4 through adults.

The Creative Corner is an  Art for the Journey production, presented by VPM and brought to you by  Earthsong.

Virginia Standards of Learning Connections (Grades 4-6):

  • Arts (Visual): 4.7, 4/6.13, 4.15, 5.1, 5.5, 6.5
  • Arts (Music): 4/5.6, 4/5.9, 5.4, 5.7, EI.2
  • English: 4/5/6/.1, 4/5/6.4
  • Science: 4.1

Art Project Guides:

Mixed Media Collage - Supplies Needed:

  • A large piece of paper
  • Glue or a glue stick
  • Magazine clippings
  • Old photos, postcards, or greeting cards
  • Stamps, stickers, or paper shapes
  • Paint, markers, or other drawing materials
  • Ribbons, buttons, or other found objects that can be glued

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Go on a scavenger hunt to find an assortment of interesting (flat) things, like the ones above!

2. Start by creating a background for your collage using large magazine cutouts, paint, markers, or other supplies. You can choose a unifying theme for your collage — like a mood, color scheme, or something you enjoy — or you can assemble a variety of items into an abstract composition full of contrast.

3. Once you’re happy with your background, start adding layers and interesting items. Use glue or tape to attach pictures, cutouts, and found objects to your collage.

4. If you want, add details and personal touches using markers, stickers, and stamps, or create some texture by adding 3D elements!

Collage can also be a great group activity. Grab a friend or a family member to search for materials and fun objects with you, and work together to decide where each element belongs in your assembled composition. If you have a large group, split into pairs and compare each other's creation when you’re all finished.

Found-Object Musical Instruments - Supplies Needed:

  • Glasses, jars, and bottles
  • Metal pots or pans
  • Ceramic cups
  • A wooden surface, like a table
  • Plastic bowls or containers
  • Kitchen utensils (wooden spoon, ladle, flatware)
  • (Optional) Water or rice to fill vessels and change sounds

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Collect a variety of items from your kitchen or around the house, using the ideas listed above for inspiration. As musician Charles Burchell shares in this week’s episode, most traditional musical instruments are made from materials like wood, metal, glass, and plastic. Look for objects made from the same materials.

2. Start by exploring the sounds you can make, tapping on your collected objects (including the table, counter, or floor) with your hand and seeing what happens.

3. Next, take something that’s shaped like a drumstick (any spoon, fork, spatula, chopstick, kebab, or other long, stick-like tool will work), and continue tapping. Explore how sounds change when you use different ends of a spoon, or tap on different materials using the same object.

4. Once you’ve gotten a feel for what sounds your kitchen instruments make, experiment with making rhythms. Start simple.  Repeat a couple of sounds in a pattern and then add in new sounds. Have fun making rhythms, patterns, and even songs with your newfound instruments. You can play a song and tap along to it if you want to practice, and then see what you can create on your own (or with friends).


  • Experiment with putting different amounts of water in your glasses and seeing how that changes the pitch or note they create when you tap them with a spoon. Which produces a higher note?  Will it be a full glass or an empty one?
  • If you want a different kind of sound, try putting some dry rice or beans in a container (like a glass jar, plastic bottle, or storage container) and shaking it to a steady rhythm — this can be a fun addition to your kitchen orchestra.
  • There are rhythms and music all around you — in your heartbeat and footsteps, in the washing machine, in the blinking of a car’s turn signal — so start listening, and see what you can discover!

Additional PBS resources: 

Kitchen Printmaking - Supplies Needed:

  • Styrofoam (Try cutting out the top or bottom of a takeout container, or using Styrofoam plates or trays. Just make sure that whatever you use is clean and dry.)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Paint (acrylic, tempera, or poster paint)
  • Paper
  • (Optional) Fabric or an old t-shirt

Step-by-Step Instructions:

1. Ask an adult for help cutting your chosen food items in half, so that one side is flat and can be pressed onto paper to make a mark. (If you’re using something solid, like a potato or an apple, you can ask your grown-up to help you carve a simple shape into the flat surface so the shape sticks out!)

2. Choose a color and spread some paint, smoothly and evenly, on a paper plate.

3. Press the flat, cut side of a piece of fruit into the paint so that the paint coats it completely. (You can twist or wiggle it a little bit if you want to make sure it gets coated evenly with paint.)

4. Lift your piece of fruit from the paint and press the painted side onto a piece of paper. (Don’t twist or wiggle it this time; just gently and evenly press it straight down.) Gently remove the fruit from the paper and check out what kind of mark it made.

5. Continue experimenting with your materials and explore how different objects create different prints. Try making interesting compositions on your paper by combining the variety of shapes and textures you’ve discovered. If you want to, you can use this same process to make prints on fabric, like an old t-shirt, a dish towel, a mask, or a bandanna.

1. Start with a smooth, flat piece of Styrofoam. (You may have to cut the bottom out of a plate, tray, or box, so ask an adult for help with this.)

2. Use a dull (not sharp!) pencil to “carve” a design into your Styrofoam “plate.” Start out with simple designs and see what works.  Adding too much detail can make it difficult to print your design clearly on the paper.

3. Once you’ve finished carving your design, use a paintbrush to spread a thin, even layer of paint on a paper plate.

4. Press your carved Styrofoam face-down into the paint, and gently rub your hand or a paper towel across the back of it, so that your design is evenly coated with color.

5. Carefully lift your carved Styrofoam from the paint plate, starting at the edge, and then press it face-down onto a piece of paper.

6. Once again, gently rub your hand or a paper towel across the back of the Styrofoam, so that your design is completely and evenly transferred to the paper.

7. Lift your Styrofoam from the paper with care, and admire your print. If you want, you can press the foam plate to the paper again immediately, and see how this second or “ghost” print differs from the first. (Hint: Its color will not be as strong, and its lines will not be as sharp.)

8. Or you can smooth out the paint in your paint dish, dip your carved plate in it again, and make a fresh print that way.

9. If you want to, you can use this same process to make prints on fabric, like an old t-shirt, a dish towel, a mask, or a bandanna.

For your
fruit and vegetable printmaking, things like apples, peppers, lemons, limes, potatoes, or eggplants all work well.

  • Tomatoes, grapes, or other things with a lot of water or juice in them will not.
  • Generally speaking, look for things that will hold their shape when you cut them in half and press them to paper, and avoid things that are squishy.
  • You can use the same color paint for all your printing, or choose a color palette (a group of colors) that you like and experiment with that.

For your Styrofoam prints, designs with less detail will be more successful than very detailed ones. Straight lines also tend to transfer more clearly than rounded or curved ones.

If your design includes any writing or something that has a specific left and right side, be sure to “carve” it backwards on your Styrofoam so that it prints onto your paper the right way around.(Anything you print will come out reversed right-to-left.)

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