Snow Day Pantry Art

Two scrappy sprouts, bursting with energy, can motivate a parent to find messy new solutions to snow day boredom.  On a day when the temperature was too low for even a little sledding, we raided the pantry and spice rack for an edible art project.
I filled little containers with dried pinto beans, split peas and pasta.  I found finely textured, golden flax seeds and peanuts in their rough shells.  I added oregano leaves and opened a tiny bag to reveal a mix of green and brown tea leaves.  We didn’t really intend to eat the finished product.  Along the way, some of the materials were consumed anyway.  Especially the peanuts.
I rounded up a few pieces of construction paper, as well as recycled pieces of thin cardboard packaging.  We would use these as the canvases for our art.  The girls each got a bottle of common school glue to use for attaching their choice of medium to the papers.  We tried using white sugar as glitter, although it didn’t turn out to be as shiny as we’d hoped.
My preschooler knew exactly what pattern she would make with the pasta.  She meticulously began laying her thin line of glue and attaching the pieces to outline her evergreen.  She eventually added a gorgeous green color to her spruce with dill weed.
My toddler enjoyed the tactile experience of handling the various materials, then piling as many of them as she could on her cardboard.  I tried to help her with the glue.  Then a couple of times I caught her dumping more glue after unscrewing the cap herself.  I kept trying to show her how you sprinkle on and shake off the materials.  She exemplified how art can be all about the process, with little worry about the results.
The girls liked to crack open the peanuts and eat them, but they were less interested than I was in what we could do with the leftover, crushed shells.  I thought of the rough texture of a tree trunk.  My older daughter helped me use flax seeds and mustard seeds to create some birds in the tree.  Yes, they are a bit out of proportion.  I don’t claim to be an artist, just someone who enjoys doing crafts with her kids.
We spent about an hour making our unique creations.  The girls enjoyed the challenge of deciding not only what they would create, but with which ingredients.  My preschooler kept asking me about the colors, and she was trying to understand the concept of natural colors versus artificial food coloring.  We used some dark orange-red paprika for a bird’s wing.  She was fascinated that we didn’t need food coloring for that.  It was an interesting setting for explaining what various food items are and their origins.
Pantry art was an easy, no-cost, creative way to pass the time while we waited for things to thaw outdoors.