Painting with apples is perfect if you’re looking for a fun and easy back to school or fall craft for toddlers and preschoolers. This is a low pressure, yet creative way to incorporate a fun painting tool along with a common back to school theme. And the best part is that children get to use real apples!
Benefits of Painting with Apples
A big goal of this project is to engage a child senses, and let them explore. This craft can help young children learn colors, shapes, and textures. In addition, three of the biggest benefits of painting with apples is the development of fine motor skills, critical thinking, and cause and effect.
Fine Motor Skills
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious benefit of this fun craft is the use of fine motor skills. Gripping and stamping the apples require the use of the small muscles of the fingers, hand, and wrist. Young children strengthen those muscles along with building hand-eye coordination.
This may seem like a simple craft project for young children, but there’s more to it than that. Using real apples helps children see a common, everyday object in a new way and have a blast while doing it. This is the basis of thinking outside to box, i.e. critical thinking.
Cause and Effect
The concept of cause and effect is central to so many things that toddlers and preschoolers do because they’re still solidifying this concept in their brains. Stamping, like doing here with the apples, is a great way to see cause and effect in action.
This craft can be as simple as you make it. Because my son is still pretty young, we kept it very straightforward with low expectations. Here’s what we used:
- Fall colored washable paint-red, orange, and green
- Yellow construction paper, but you can use any color or even a canvas
- One apple, cut in half and dried off
- Paint smock or shirt
- Paper plate to hold the paint
- Fork or corn corn holder, optional
- Sponge paint brush, optional
When gathering materials, you can use any color paint or any background you want for this craft. If you’re doing this with a class of young children, consider one giant piece of paper for them all to paint together, too.
Cutting the Apple
To cut your apple, you can either cut it in half vertically or horizontally. If you want a true apple shape to show up, cut the apple vertically through the middle. Or you can also cut it horizontally to see the star in the middle.
Painting with Apples Step by Step
Here’s an easy step by step process for painting with apples. The younger the child the more help they will need. And, remember, like most crafts for toddlers and preschoolers, the learning and benefits are in the process of creating the craft, not in the end result.
Paint the Apple
Here is where the optional sponge paint brush comes in. You can either paint a solid, but not too thick layer of paint on the cut side of the apple.
Alternatively, you can have your child dip the apple in the paint themselves. If you do it this way, have an extra piece of paper ready. Because there’s usually too much paint on the apple after dipping, have them stamp once on the extra paper, and then stamp on the actual project.
Painting with the Apple
Now your child is ready to paint with the apple-it’s that easy! To make it easier on their little hands, stick the apple with a fork or a corn cob holder to help them pick it up. The shape of the apples makes them a little slippery and difficult to pick up with paint on them.
We stamp and repaint the apple a few times before moving on to the next color paint.
Finishing the Craft-Optional
An optional last step (that’s mostly for presentation) is something you can choose to do after your project has dried. Cut out the paper into the shape of an apple, too! Or use the paper for another fall or back to school craft.
A Few Tips
The biggest frustration with adults during this craft is that often times the stamps don’t come out as perfect apple shapes, but that’s okay! This project is about the process of using apples to explore and experiment.
You may notice that while some young children stamp nicely with the apples, other children like to slide the apple around and use it to swirl the paint together. That’s okay, too!
When we did this project with my son at two years old, I had to assist him with stamping the apple. He was more interested in sliding the apple around on the extra piece of paper. Pretty quickly he kept asking for more paint colors to mix together with the apple, too.
As with most painting activities (and honestly most projects we do), a mess is bound to happen. This is all part of messy play which is extremely beneficial for young children. You can read all about here, and how to minimize the mess during this type of play.
There are so many ways to make fun variations of this apple craft to fit your needs and goals. You can easily change it up by using different color paints and paper. Also consider using different types of apples for a variety of colors and sizes, so the children can see the differences.
For even more sensory play, try adding in smells to the project. You can easily sprinkle (or have children sprinkle) ground cinnamon or ground cloves on your project before the paint dries. Alternatively, you could also mix it with your paint.
If you’re really ambitious with the sensory play, you could even use edible paint for taste. Try something like pudding, or check out our whole list here.
You can also try cutting the apple into different shapes to make multiple stamps. Or pair the apple with other fall fruits and vegetables that are fun to paint with. Check out our whole list of the best painting utensils that are not paintbrushes here.
Check out other fun back to school crafts
Looking for even back to school craft ideas? Here’s a full list with different back to school themes and ideas.
Or try more fun painting activities
Continue with the painting fun that also helps with fine motor skills. Use all the same fall paint colors for a festive painting using cotton balls. See the whole tutorial here.