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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.

Fruit baskets with painted paper project
Arrange vegetables underneath the “crate” and glue everything to a black sheet of paper using glue sticks.

Step by step: Mexican fruit baskets
Use old “placemats” cut into long strips as a colorful border.

Second Grade fruit and vegetable crates!

Mexican fruit basket

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  1. 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?


    February 15, 2011

    • 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.


      February 15, 2011

  2. Fun, Fun, Fun! I love the little labels! Isn’t painted paper such a blast! 🙂


    February 15, 2011

  3. 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!


    February 16, 2011

  4. 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,


    March 1, 2011

  5. 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!

    Martha Leslie

    March 28, 2011

  6. 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?

    Dale Adams

    July 8, 2011

    • 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.


      July 11, 2011

  7. 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!


    November 11, 2011

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