5 DIY Summer Art Projects for Kids

School’s out and your kids are enjoying a break from homework, tests, and extracurriculars.  Summer is a great time for kids to try out new activities, and you may even be able to sneak in an educational activity here and there. One educational activity your kids may enjoy over summer break is art. There are many benefits of art education. A study of Missouri public schools found that participation in art classes helped lower the amount of student disciplinary infractions. The study also found a positive correlation between art education and high school graduation rates. School districts with higher student participation in art programs had higher graduation rates than schools with low art program participation.

Keeping your kids interested in art over summer is a great way to encourage learning and creativity. We have collected 5 inexpensive, non-toxic, and easy art materials you can make with your kids this summer!

Non-Toxic Finger Paint

This finger paint is super easy to make with only four ingredients! Your kids will enjoy making masterpieces with this colorful finger paint.


4 tbsp sugar

½ cup cornstarch

2 cups cold water

Natural food coloring (Color Garden sells food coloring made from natural food dyes)

Containers for paints


  1. Stir 4 tbsp of sugar and ½ cup of cornstarch together. Add 2 cups of cold water, and then heat over medium heat until mixture thickens.
  2. Allow mixture to cool, divide into containers, and add desired food colorings. Use fingers to paint with!

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart


Gluten-Free Play Dough

Play dough is a great art material that is sure to bring lots of fun and smiles! This recipe is great for kids who are gluten intolerant.


½ cup rice flour

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup salt

2 tsp cream of tarter

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup of water and natural food coloring


  1. Mix flour, cornstarch, salt, and cream of tarter in a medium-sized pot.  
  2. Add oil and colored water. Stir until ingredients are blended.
  3. Heat over low/medium heat. Stir often, cooking dough about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Allow dough to cool. Have kids help knead the dough, and then enjoy your new gluten-free play dough!

Recipe adapted from Mommypotamus 

Ice Cube Paint

This would be the perfect art material for a hot summer day. Kids will enjoy making icy creations with this non-toxic, inexpensive paint.  


Ice cube tray

Small plastic bowls

Natural food coloring

Wooden Popsicle sticks


  1. Fill small plastic bowls with water, and then add desired food colorings.
  2. Fill ice cube tray with food coloring/water mixtures, and place in freezer.
  3. When ice cube paints are half-way frozen (after about 30-45 minutes), insert popsicle sticks in the center of each ice cube.
  4. When ice cube paints are completely frozen, gently remove cubes from tray and start painting!

Recipe adapted from First Palette 

Fizzy Sidewalk Paint

This is not your traditional sidewalk chalk! This recipe mixes baking soda and vinegar to make a bubbly reaction on the sidewalk. Kids will love seeing their chalk paintings bubble and fizz!


Container of baking soda

½ cup of cornstarch

Warm water

Natural food coloring

Spray bottle

White Vinegar


  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add water and stir.
  3. Have kids paint their artwork on the sidewalk.
  4. Give each kid a spray bottle filled with white vinegar. Tell them to spray their sidewalk paint creations.
  5. Enjoy watching their sidewalk paintings fizz!

Adapted from Kids Activities Blog

Dyed Pasta Beads

There are so many uses for these colorful pasta beads! You can string them on yarn to make necklaces and bracelets, glue them on art projects, or place them in large containers for sensory play.  


Different types of pasta (use gluten free pasta if needed)

White vinegar

Natural food coloring

Freezer bags


  1. Divide pasta into freezer bags. Each color will have its’ own bag.
  2. Add 1 tsp of vinegar to bag (work with one bag at a time), then close the top and scrunch to distribute vinegar.
  3. Add food coloring to bag, close top, and scrunch to distribute color.
  4. Spread pasta out on aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, and let dry overnight.
  5. Enjoy your dyed pasta beads!

Recipe adapted from Artful Parent

Now that you have some art material recipes, it’s time to start creating and have fun. Your kids will love having fun art activities to do over summer break, and they will also experience the benefits of art education!



Written by Karen Richards . All images used are from the Creative Commons. Second image credit to Jamieanne and third image to Suzette via Flickr.


Going the Distance

As mentioned in a previous post Schoolyard Farms broke ground on their second farm location at New Urban High outside of Portland, Oregon back in February. They have worked tirelessly both on and off the campus raising funds to support the construction and planting of this new space. We at Monbrigo are so pleased to be one of the community sponsors of this project and see their impressive progress! The Schoolyard Farms crew, along with help from community volunteers, parents, students and teachers, turned the once empty lot into a gorgeous farm space already yielding food for their summer CSA program. Four of the CSA shares are given away on a scholarship to local families in need.

As part of their education programming within the school new programs are planned for the next school year. A tasting program is in the works which will allow each and every student at New Urban High to sample a different vegetable grown on the farm each month. They are also developing a leadership program whereby select students will learn leadership and job training skills thus ensuring more confident and competitive students entering the job force!

We could not be more proud of the hard work and dedication that Schoolyards Farms has shown in the creation, implementation and success of this new school farm and its positive impact on the students and their education. For more information about their fantastic work be sure to check out www.schoolyardfarms.org!



Have a great weekend!

P.S. If you are in the Portland area, be sure to pop by EcoBaby Gear on SE Stark Ave. Their wonderful selection of unique and earth-friendly products now includes Monbrigo bibs. Pop by and say hi!


The Benefits of Edible Education in Food Deserts

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 6.5 million children live in an area classified as a “food desert”.  What exactly is a food desert, and how does this impact America’s children?  A food desert is a community that does not have immediate access to healthy, wholesome foods.  Residents of these communities do not live close to grocery stores or farmers’ markets, and must rely on convenience stores for groceries.  Unfortunately, these stores usually only sale pre-packaged foods that are loaded with preservatives and lacking in nutrition.  Many children growing up in food deserts are not being taught healthy food choices and eating habits.  This is a sad reality, but fortunately programs such as the Edible Schoolyard Project are working to make a difference in these communities.

Alice Waters founded the Edible Schoolyard Project in 1995.  The mission of the Edible Schoolyard Project is to educate children about healthy food choices through a hands-on, interactive learning experience.  According to Alice Waters, “The garden becomes your teacher.  It’s that garden that teaches the values that we need to live on this planet.”  Students and teachers are involved in the process of gardening, harvesting, and preparing healthy foods.  This program could benefit children living in a food desert in numerous ways:

Teaches Healthy Food Choices

One of the top benefits of implementing the Edible Schoolyard Project in a food desert is that it educates students about nutritious, wholesome foods.  Students are not only taught about nutrition, but they get to be an active participant in the food-making process.  Schools that follow the Edible Schoolyard Project have gardens and kitchen-classrooms where students are educated in gardening and food preparation.  This provides students with the tools they need to continue healthy food choices for a lifetime.  Students are empowered by this process; they are actively making healthy choices and are provided with the skills to do so. 

Provides Education Opportunities in Every Subject

The Edible Schoolyard Project goes above and beyond educating children about healthy food choices.  Lesson plans involve different academic subjects and follow content standards, Common Core State Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.  There are so many ways to connect nutrition with other subjects such as science, reading, or art.  This program encourages active learning, and keeps children interested and involved.   

Encourages Community Involvement

Another benefit of the Edible Schoolyard Project is that it promotes community involvement.  Everyone at the school is involved in the program: teachers, administrators, and students.  Students may share the information they learn at home, and this could lead to more gardening in the community.  If the Edible Schoolyard Project’s benefits expand beyond the schoolyard, imagine the difference it could make in a food desert community.

Here at Monbrigo, 50% of our profits support urban food desert communities by funding community gardens and edible education programs.  We are inspired by the Edible Schoolyard Project’s mission, and hope to help similar programs educate children about healthy food choices.  


Written by Karen Richards, 2016.

Top image from The USDA via Flickr. Second image is in public domain.