Looking for a fun summer craft? You don’t need to look far! Occupational therapist Jessica Lynn shares suggestions for a special painting technique that involves an item that’s likely already in your fridge – celery!
How to make a celery stamp rainbow fish
Hidden behind this multi-medium fish craft is a wealth of fine and visual motor integration practice! The project offers the “just right challenge” for a wide range of ages and ability levels, and a variety of ways to create a final product.
Outline of a fish on paper or cardstock
Variety of paint colors
Googly eye (optional)
– Cut a stalk of celery into several pieces and set out a dab of each color of paint.
– Have the child dip one end of a celery piece into the paint and stamp in a row to make scales on the fish. Starting from the front of the fish works best for neatly stamping the scales. Use one piece of celery for each color.
– Use this technique to decorate the tail or fins if desired and draw an eye and a mouth (or glue on a googly eye) to finish the fish.
Here are a few ways you can use this activity to develop specific skills based on the position of the materials, size of the tools and complexity of the pattern:
Cut the celery smaller to facilitate the use of a more mature grasp pattern. While a child might use a fisted grasp pattern to hold the celery, if the celery is cut smaller, they will only be able to pick it up with their fingertips, which is a more developed way to hold a small object. The smaller the piece of celery, the more challenging it will be for the child to pick up!
To develop the strength and hand coordination needed for writing, put a small object such as a pom pom or small eraser in the pinky side of the child’s palm and challenge the child to hold the object with their ring and pinky fingers while using their other fingers to hold the celery. This facilitates the separation of each side of a child’s hand which is important for an effective pencil grasp.
Place the fish on an easel or refrigerator while the child works on it. This will help to strengthen the wrist, which is also important in developing an effective pencil grasp.
Draw half circles and have the child stamp on top of them to work on hand-eye coordination. Challenge the child by having them copy a pattern or design that you create in advance to work on visual-perceptual skills.
To make a larger fish and to help strengthen fine motor skills, try using an empty toilet paper roll as a stamp. Cut the empty roll in half lengthwise and bend it so the ends form a half-moon shape. The child will need to hold the cut roll in the half-moon shape as they stamp, keeping the roll steady with the pinky and ring fingers and using the middle finger, index finger and thumb to gently push the roll into shape. (If needed, you can put a piece of tape around the toilet paper roll half to hold the round shape more easily.) The ability to use each side of your hand for different functions is essential for writing, drawing, buttoning and similar activities.
More skill-building crafts
Visit these CHoR activity blogs for other ideas for skill-building crafts:
Always supervise children closely when they are working with paint, glue, scissors and other craft supplies.
Craft idea adapted from craftymorning.com