Hand-Painted Paper Fruits and Vegetables

By Maxine Feldman-Cohen, January 16, 2007

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Science

Lesson Time

Three fifty-minute class periods


In this lesson, students create hand painted fruits and vegetables to hang in the Sukkah, a temporary shelter used during the Jewish Holiday, Sukkot. At our school, the entire student body is engaged in creating decorations for this event. Since the holiday celebrates the harvest season, fruits and vegetables are relevant. First through third graders can identify shapes and colors of fruits and vegetables and are excited to create images drawing from “reality” and “observation.”

National Standards


Students will:
  • brainstorm about fruits and vegetables
  • draw from observation
  • gain confidence in transferring their ideas to paper
  • take a small image and enlarge it
  • follow directions in cutting and stapling


  • images of fruits and vegetables from books or calendars (Calendars are a great resource especially when laminated. The book Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert is a wonderful source. First grade was learning about this author in their classroom at the same time we made the fruits and vegetables.)
  • examples of artists’ work depicting fruits and vegetables
  • real fruits and vegetables


  • paper and pencils for first sketches
  • large white mural paper or large sheets of heavy (80 lb.) weight drawing
  • paper
  • scissors
  • tempera paints
  • paintbrushes
  • staples
  • laminating machine (if work is to be placed outside)
  • scraps from cutting out laminated work and or bubble wrap
  • Sharpies


Observational drawing-drawings done by looking at something (in this case from real fruits and vegetables or from images). Enlarge-to make something bigger. Outline-the edge of something.


1st class Begin a discussion that will enable the students to share ideas and information. Use questions to engage students like, “What is your favorite fruit or vegetable?” Several children will share their thoughts. Continue with, “What does that vegetable/fruit look like?” “What colors would you need to paint it?” Show examples of real fruit and talk about the shapes and colors that the students notice. Then show them examples of paintings where artists have depicted fruits and vegetables. Are the colors the same as the real-life fruit, why or why not? (At this point, read the students Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert if they haven’t already read it. This is optional, but is a good way to tie the project into the Language Arts curriculum, as well as providing examples of painted and drawn fruits.) After the students have shared their ideas, they should begin to sketch. Have the students make several drawings so that you can choose the one that will best translate into a larger format. Also, having them draw several sketches will give you a variety of fruits and veggies for the display. Meet with each child individually and after choosing the “favorite” design, have them work on a large piece of white paper that has been folded in half (so that the fruit has 2 sides). Have several sizes available depending upon the shape of the object. Each student should draw the outline of the object onto the large paper. Put one or two staples (on the loose setting) within the outline of the image in order to prevent the work from slipping as it is cut out. Write each students name on both sides of the inside of the shape. If there is time, have the students cut out the shape during this lesson. 2nd class Prepare many shades of colors for the fruits and vegetables. Either have colors ready, or instruct the students to mix their own colors. You will need several shades of greens, purples, oranges, yellows, reds, etc. in paper cups. Make sure each student has their shape and is aware that the side where their name is written should not be painted. This is very important because the two shapes will be put together and stuffed, so they need to fit properly. Help each student if they have trouble choosing a color and have each student take one paint color at a time, return the color to the supply table, and then choose another one. Make sure the students know to let the paint dry before adding additional details on top (e.g. the seeds of a watermelon), unless they want the colors to mix. Also, allow the students to use Sharpies to add details. When one side is complete, give the student the second side. 3rd class By this time, hopefully both sides of the fruit/vegetable have been painted and are dry. Laminate both sides and have the students cut them out, leaving some plastic around the edge of the form. They should then put both sides together and staple the edges HALF way around the form. You may need to help get this started. Using left over plastic from cutting out the shapes, along with small sheets of bubble wrap, the students should stuff the forms and then finish stapling. If the pieces of work are staying indoors, then newspaper can be used for stuffing. If they will be hung outside use plastic and bubble wrap in case of rain. Punch a hole in the top and use fishing wire to hang the pieces (our school hung them in the Sukkah).


While I hope to get recognizable images, I am not overly concerned with those students who do not use the “correct” colors when painting their fruit or vegetable. There are students who do very detailed work and others who make large round shapes with one color. I might mention adding a “stem” etc. but the work looks wonderful when it is hanging all together. The students can be assessed on following directions, as well as participation.

Enrichment Extension Activities

This activity could be expanded by working with the science teacher to talk about how fruits and vegetables grow, students could even choose a few seeds that they would like to plant and observe. The importance of eating fruits and vegetables and proper nutrition could also be studied. Students’ families could be part of this by making an effort to try new fruits and vegetables and charting the discoveries. Recipes could be written and shared in the Language Arts class.
This project could also work really well with older students. Other themes could be used to create large, stuffed objects including animals, plants, people, etc. They could be used as props for plays or integrated into the science or social studies curriculum. They could also be used for parades, fairs, etc.

Teacher Reflection

The students have been very successful. They love doing this and seeing their work hanging in the Sukkah. For me, since this project happens at the beginning of the school year, it is a way to notice who might need help with cutting. I also get to learn about students’ drawing abilities. Visual resources are very important so that children do not have to draw solely from their imaginations. One needs to be very organized and planned in this lesson since there are several steps and the pieces need to fit together. The stapling is the hard part for young children and does work best with several adult hands to help. I would not change the lesson since I think it works really well.

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