Mexican Unit: Fruit Crate Art Project

Continuing with our Mexico-themed art lessons, second graders created “Market Day” fruit crates. The project took three 45-minute sessions. First session: the students created their own painted paper.  Second session: students free-cut (organic shapes) fruit and vegetables.  Third session: they created a wooden crate from brown paper, added a colorful border and glued all the pieces together.

For a final flourish, the children glued vintage fruit crate labels to their crates. I found them at Now and Then Designs on Flickr.

Click on this link to read about How to Make Painted Paper

Create your own painted paper by using bright tempera paints and lots of texture tools.

When the painted paper dries, select 3-5 sheets and cut into vegetable and fruit shapes.

Use old “placemats” cut into long strips as a colorful border.

Arrange vegetables underneath the "crate" and glue everything to a black sheet of paper using glue sticks.




Second Grade fruit and vegetable crates!



  1. Julie says:

    When you create the painted paper do you have student put their names on them or do you just have everyone create some and then share for the project?

    • Patty says:

      No names. The children need so many colors that it would require too much in terms of logistics (drying racks, paper, sorting,etc). It’s much easier for me to set up five table groups (green, red, blue, yellow and browns/neutrals). Kids can make 2-3 12″ x 18″ papers. They can chose the table in which they want to work. No names. Class shares. It works well this way.

  2. Laura says:

    Fun, Fun, Fun! I love the little labels! Isn’t painted paper such a blast! :)

  3. Julie says:

    Excellent! Thanks for the tip. I am doing a Matisse inspired lesson with my third graders and I am going to give this a try!

  4. Lulu says:

    Thank you so much for your website! I’m a frequent visitor and have used many of your ideas with my students (2nd and 3rd grade). I shared it with other teachers. Today my class just completed the fruit crate project and each and every one is so creative. You have the talent of putting together lessons that are fun while teaching techniques.
    All the best,

  5. [...] Deep Space Sparkle – Mexican Fruit Crate Art Project Children use painted paper to create a crate full of vegetables and fruit. [...]

  6. Martha Leslie says:

    This project turned out just beautifully. The kids learned so much about texture with just tempera, assorted stuff I found to mark with, and paper. Thank you so much!

  7. Dale Adams says:

    Patty, Thank you so much for the Mexican Fruit Crate Idea. I tried it today, and it is still fresh in my mind. They turned out spectacular! Yet, at one point I was worried I was going to fail. We were at an art camp for 2 hours/day. It took 4 hours, and I had 2 helpers. I used the sulphite paper you recommended and high grade tempera paint. The painting portion turned out beautiful; the cutting went well, but when we started to lay it out and glue it down, the kids really had a lot of trouble gluing the fruit from the top down, rather than the basket up. My only thought for next time is to glue down a thin pretend basket top line, and have them use it as a visual reference to help them locate their fruit. Once the fruit is on, then cover it with the basket. Do you have a technique for this?

    • Patty says:

      Hi Dale,
      I know exactly what you mean. Drawing a line where the top of the basket to go is exactly right. Just lay down the paper “basket” and use a piece of chalk pastel to draw a line (or a crayon). Glue the fruit down and then the basket.

  8. [...] We love how they turned out! This great art lesson came from one of our favourite art blogs, Deep Space Sparkle. [...]

  9. Bethany says:

    We’ve tried our hand at both the paper making and the baskets. We adapted ours to autumn vegetables!

    Thanks so much for the terrific ideas!

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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