Brrrrrrr! With the year off to a frigid start, I’ve put my indoor dramatic play thinking cap on this week and hunkered down for some recycled art time. I had piles of cardboard boxes leftover from the holidays I was determined to recycle, and it provided the perfect opportunity for me to create a little set of play French market food – because who says you can’t enjoy a farmer’s market in the dead of winter? 😉
I’m so happy with the way these turned out and I have the best secret to making your own set the kiddos can help create. I really wanted to give these a graphic, hand-illustrated look (think Richard Scarry’s Busy World books or Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar) but also wanted this pretend food set to be something you could easily recreate.
So, if the joy of snow days is starting to wear off and your family fancies a little escape, grab some cardboard and prepare to travel to the delicious springtime streets of Paris. Ohh la la! Add our DIY no-sew sushi set for pretend play inspired by another gorgeous travel venue.
To make your own cardboard market food you’ll need:
- Acrylic paints (I recommend some bright colors, white and black)
- A couple of paintbrushes (one for big areas, a smaller brush for the outlines and details)
- Mod Podge or a thin craft glue
- A foam brush for glue application
- Our market food printable play extension pack
- A black permanent marker (you can use this instead of paint to make the outlines)
Note: If you want to try making a set all your own, using ours as inspiration instead of downloading our printable, go for it!! I recommend drawing your food shapes on the cardboard with a marker first, then coloring in with acrylic paints. Finish by cutting the shapes out of cardboard with a good pair of scissors, and you’re good to go!
If you’re totally into the look of these and want to replicate our set or build off of our templates, read on…
DIY Cardboard Play Market Food Instructions:
- Draw your food onto cardboard or print and cut out our templates
Download print and cut out our Printable PDF templates – standard copy paper works best! If you’d rather not download a template, you can use the pictures as inspiration to hand draw your own on to cardboard
- Glue the templates to large pieces of cardboard
Using Mod Podge or Elmer’s glue, apply glue to the backs of your cutout paper pieces, then glue down to a piece of cardboard. Be sure to spread your glue thinly and evenly all the way to the edges to prevent bubbling when you paint over the surface later.
- Paint your market food
Start coloring in your market food with paint, making sure you actually overlap the black outlines on the paper at least a little. This is a great way for kids to get involved and make this project their own because staying in the lines isn’t really necessary. Once you’ve finished adding the color, let dry.
- Add the black outlines to the edges of your food items
Now it’s time to make the outlines. I used black acrylic paint and a small brush to trace over the outlines on my market food. Even with a generous layer of colored paint, the outlines are bold enough you’ll still be able to see them enough to follow over them. For the smaller detailers (like the strawberry seeds) I used a black permanent marker, but if you’d prefer to stick to paint that works fine too! This doesn’t have to be perfect either – when painting I wasn’t really worried about staying exactly on or in the lines, and it didn’t matter at all.
*Note: you can actually use a permanent marker to outline everything if the painting starts feeling tedious – I tested it out on a few of my outlines – it looked exactly the same and takes half the time!
- Use heavy scissors or an X-Acto knife to cut out your market food
Cut out your market food! This is the fun part because as soon as you cut out your food items, they look like they just jumped off of an illustrated book page onto your table!
Voila! Just like that, you have a whole set of handmade play market food that looks just as lovely as a French market in springtime!
This cute cardboard food set can be used for dramatic play, but it is also wonderful for learning about kitchen practical skills, food groups, sorting into “tooth healthy” options, and more.
It’s also a good way for kids to practice putting healthy meals together!