One of my earliest memories is of sitting at my Grandma’s kitchen table, next to a large picture window, with several sheets of white paper and a box of crayons. I was probably about 4 years old, and I could happily spend hours every day drawing and coloring.
My grandma was also in the kitchen — washing dishes at the sink. The most vivid part of the memory happened just after I finished a picture and held it up for her to see.
It was a typical 4-year old drawing, with an inch of green grass across the bottom, an inch of blue sky across the top,
and the sun hanging in a great abyss below the inch of sky.
She looked at my picture, then walked over and sat next to me at the table, drying her hands on her apron as she walked. Without commenting on my drawing, she pointed out the window and showed me how the sky met the ground at the horizon. She then told me that my drawing was coming along nicely and that she was interested to see how I would finish it.
I worked a while longer on that drawing and made the sky and the grass meet, the same way I could see it happening outside the window. I’ll never forget that first art lesson from my grandma. She taught me to look. She didn’t tell me what to see, she just taught me to look as I was drawing and to draw from life.
Children don’t need to be told what to do, they need to be given rich experiences to explore and learn from. They are so capable — we adults just need to trust that they will create wonderful, beautiful things and give them the freedom to do so.
I love this quote by Marie Montessori:
Education is a natural process carried out by the child. It is not acquired by
listening to words, but by experiences in the environment.
In that vein, today’s art activity is open-ended, sensory-rich and fun to boot.
I think your kiddos will love it!
We’re making stamped art with our own homemade potato stamps!
I just happened to have a large roll of newsprint, so my kids started off by making several long rolls of wrapping paper that they want to use to wrap their gifts for each other and their grandparents.
They were still going strong after creating the gift wrap and decided to make Christmas cards, too. You can use plain printer paper or whatever you’ve got around. We’re going to try kraft paper next.
You’ll need to help with the knife work, but your little ones can complete the rest with just a little supervision. Unless you want to get involved — the kids shouldn’t get all the fun, right?
I’ll show you a super, duper easy way to carve Christmas shapes into your potato stamps. I let my kiddos, ages 5 and up, use pumpkin-carving knives to cut their own stamps, though I wouldn’t let kids any younger than that try. The pumpkin-carving knives aren’t sharp, but they could still hurt a little person.
Supplies You’ll Need
- Pumpkin-carving knife (or any kitchen knife if an adult is doing the potato carving)
- Tempera paints, or any water-based paints
- Glitter or other fun embellishments
Potato Stamp Directions
1. Cut your potato in half. I chose to cut ours lengthwise so the stamp could be larger, but either way works. If you have a potato with a round-ish cross-section, you could use that as a round ornament, without carving an ornament into the potato. All of our potatoes were too elliptical.
2. Press a cookie cutter into the potato. Metal cookie cutters worked best for us. We tried our plastic ones and they seemed too fragile. Then my kiddos just trimmed the potato back to the edge of the cutter, the way it’s pictured above.
3. Pour some paint onto a paper plate and dab the potato in the paint, ensuring that the surface is evenly coated. Another option is to paint the stamp with a brush. My kiddos wanted to paint their stamps so they could get more detail. You can stamp the potato several times before it needs to be dipped in the paint again. You can also wash the paint off the potato stamp to re-use it with another color if you like.
4. Remember that it’s about the process and not the end results. The technique might take awhile to get the hang of. At first, my 5-year old kept trying to re-stamp over stamps that weren’t perfectly stamped. She quickly realized it was too hard to line up and learned to just embrace the imperfections. Your kids might decide to finger paint instead.
5. If you want to let your kids use glitter (I rarely do because I loathe the clean up!) apply it whilethe paint is still wet.
6. Set the paintings aside to dry. Once dry, you can add details with markers, like the ornament tops and loops we added with a black marker (see photo below).
1. You can use a wavy veggie cutter or a serrated knife to add texture to your designs. Use a skewer to make small holes in the potato. The simpler your design, though, the better it will come out.
2. Keep your potato stamps moist, as letting them dry out will distort the design.
3. It’s easiest to keep shapes very simple, and then draw on details with markers after the painted stamp has dried. For example, you can turn a simple square into a gift just by drawing on a ribbon. We turned simple circles into ornaments by drawing the top and loop on after our potato-stamped circles dried.
4. Get creative and think of other things to stamp. For example, we all stamped our handprints (with fabric paint which is NOT easily washable) on a simple apron for my mother-in-law. You could stamp a tote bag, a pillowcase, a book cover or an article of clothing. Your kids would love to turn their stamped art into Christmas gifts!
Here are the potato-stamped cards my kids made. They are so proud!
Here is our finished product, potato-stamped gift wrap, in use. Isn’t it cute? My kiddos were
overjoyed to wrap their brother’s gift in wrapping paper they had made.
Making a stamp from a potato is a fun activity for kids and adults alike. Have fun ‘putting your own stamp’ on this project and creating something beautiful with your kiddos. Thanks for hanging out with us today!
I’d love to see what you create!
Be sure to download the 12 Days of Christmas calendar for more fun Christmas activities.
About the author:
Amy blogs at Orison Orchards (named after the farm/orchards the Saunders family owns) where she helps homeschooling mama’s find the confidence to educate their children using a child-led approach, and live life to the fullest without breaking the bank.
She is currently homeschooling six of her eight children. The oldest two were also homeschooled, and are now on scholarship at a prestigious university. Her youngest is 5-years old.
Amy advocates sunshine, pinches pennies, and is the Chief Idea Officer of the Saunders family. If she were ever offered a superpower, she would choose ‘Entropy Annihilation’. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.