Thinking outside the lunchbox!

One of my favorite books that I discovered recently and have been sharing with my students is Nina Laden’s Roberto Insect Architect (2000).  As a boy Roberto, a termite, plays with the wood he is given to eat and creates towers.  His parents scold him, but Roberto’s food play leads to discovering his passion for architecture.  At the end of the story after Roberto has become famous, termite parents encourage their children to play with their food, so they can grow up to be like Roberto.

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Since January I have been meeting with a group of homeschoolers two Fridays per month for a day of art activities.  I haven’t read Roberto the Insect architect to this group, but of course kids and playing with food is an age old activity.  We eat lunch together picnic style, and one of my students, Katie an 8 year old girl, always creates food sculptures with her lunch.  Katie’s creations have come to be something that we all look forward to seeing each Friday Art day.  I kept thinking I ought to photograph her sculptures, and finally at our last Friday meeting I did.  It turned out to be a particularly rewarding sculpture session as she had some foil wrapped chocolates from Easter and some Annie’s Cheddar Bunny crackers.

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Occasionally some of the other children also join in and make food sculptures, but mostly we’re all too hungry and busy devouring our lunches to take the time to savor the colors and shapes of our food!  Chef’s know the appeal of a beautifully presented plate.  Icons like Martha Stewart have made fortunes by being open to the possibilities of the decorative and artistic possibilities that food, plants, and flowers exude.  And of course one of my all time favorite books is Food Play by Joost Elffers and Saxton Freymann (2006) with its creative use of the the shapes of the veggies and their stems for things like noses or squinched up facial expressions.

We meet again on May 4th, and I think we’ll break for lunch a few minutes early so we can all create a food sculpture and celebrate Katie for inspiring us to think outside the lunch box!

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About francifularts

I am an independent art educator. I had my first experience teaching ceramics when I was 24 and worked in the University for Youth program at the University of Denver. As an elementary school teacher I always found myself integrating the arts across the curriculum, which led to me working as an artist in the schools. In May of 2008 I began a master's program with Lesley University in their Creative Arts in Learning Program. It was a truly transformative and incredible experience which led me to decide to devote the rest of my teaching career to teaching art, and through the arts. About the same time that I completed my master's degree in January of 2011 I was hired to teach art in two different programs. I have never been happier in my work as a teacher, and I really appreciate the wonderful professors and cohort of fellow teachers I studied with at Lesley University. I also want to thank all of the wonderful arts educators that I have met online through the TAB/choice list serv for their thoughtful posts and insightful suggestions for teaching art!
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