Painting with Oranges

We regularly incorporate painting into our weekly activities, allowing the children to interact with different paint colors, types, techniques and utensils to express themselves and make beautiful pictures. This week we got creative with our painting utensil and used oranges to make art.

To begin this exploration, we sliced the oranges into halves and gave the children red, yellow and orange paint. The children then dipped the oranges into the paint and “stamped” it onto the paper creating circles. Some of the children began to scoop the inside of the orange out and use the inside to paint with, while others squeezed the juice onto the paper to use as type of paint.

Painting plays an important role in our curriculum because it allows children to express themselves freely, exploring new concepts and documenting personal thoughts and ideas on paper. In this exploration, each child was able to freely determine what technique they wanted to adopt in this orange painting experience, allowing them to explore at their own pace and satisfy their personal curiosities. This builds self-confidence and a positive connotation towards being adventurous and trying new things.

Incorporating an uncommon tool (like an orange) into a common activity is valuable because it challenges the children to jump out of their comfort zone, reevaluate their perceptions of the world around them and practice problem solving. In this activity, the children were able to take an item that they usually associate with snack time and learn to use it as a tool. Working with the oranges to create the desired images, textures and colors encouraged the children to think outside the box and learn through trial and error.

Along with strengthening cognitive skills, this hands-on exploration also built upon fine motor skills. Actions involved in squeezing the juice, cleaning out the inside of the fruit, applying various levels of pressure while “stamping” and reaching to different points of the paper all strengthened the muscles in the children’s fingers, hands and arms.

Interacting with ordinary objects in unordinary ways shows children that things are not always what they seem. When imagination and creativity are applied, children are more engaged. With this spark of interest comes more attention to detail, allowing the children to notice characteristics of the item that they might not pick up on otherwise when their primary focus is getting the fruit from their plate to their stomach.

Observing Oranges on the Light Table

“Don’t play with your food!” is a common phrase directed at children. Typically, children are given food with one purpose: to eat it. However, our philosophy supports quite the opposite. We believe in allowing time for children to explore the food, experience it using all of their senses, grasp where it comes from and eventually learn to prepare it.

This week, the star of our food exploration was the orange. We brought whole and sliced oranges for the children to interact with. The children held the whole oranges, taking note of the fruit’s characteristics in its most natural state. The slices of oranges were placed on the light table for the children to investigate, allowing them to take a closer look at the inner workings of the fruit.

As the children interacted with the fruit in its different forms, we talked about:

  • Color
  • Smell
  • Texture
  • The name of the fruit
  • How many there were
  • How to prepare and cut it to eat

Allowing children to have this kind of exploration time with food opens the door to a variety of learning experiences. Mathematics was involved as the children counted the produce and number of slices. Practicing the name of the fruit enhanced communication skills, broadening vocabulary and word/object association.

In learning more about the fruit’s properties the children gain a higher level of comfort with the food and are more likely to give it a try and enjoy it. In learning to prepare it, the children obtain a sense of independence and accomplishment.

By engaging all of their senses, rather than taste alone, the children gained a deeper understanding of the fruit. As this happens, children learn to view food as something more than a snack. It becomes a learning mechanism, a source of artistic inspiration and a new way to look at and experience the natural world around them.