Egg Carton Painting

If you grew up in the United States, there’s a good chance that during your childhood you made some version of an egg carton craft: think lady bugs with pom-pom faces and googly eyes. On this page alone, I counted 47 craft projects for preschoolers that begin with egg cartons!

What N and I embarked on is more of a free-painting project, sans pom-poms, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes. It takes the open-ended painting experience from the easel to the egg carton, and offers children an opportunity to think creatively and independently. I’m big on using non-art materials for art-making, and this definitely fits the bill.  Recycling materials teaches kids that anything can be used for art, and we’re only limited by our own imaginations. In addition to all of this, the textured, bumpy surface of the carton is a new form of tactile exploration that offers new challenges to kids used to painting on 2-D surfaces. And, if you set this up on your kitchen floor, as we did, this is a flexible activity for homes with limited art-making space.

Time

10 minutes for set-up and clean-up. 10 – 45 minutes for the activity.  At 2 years old, my daughter spent about 10 minutes on this.

Materials

  • Cardboard egg carton/s
  • Tempera paint (acrylic will work too)
  • Fat brushes. We like round, fat brushes like these.
  • Palette or paint cups. I like to squeeze paints on a plastic-coated paper plate or plate covered in foil.

Steps

  1. Save your cardboard egg cartons. We eat a lot of eggs around here, so this wasn’t too hard.
  2. Cover your work surface. I covered a large area of our kitchen floor with a paper grocery bag that I cut open.
  3. Set up materials. I limited our palette to two colors, which my daughter enjoyed mixing.
  4. Give your child the egg carton, and see what he or she comes up with.

Egg Carton Extension

I found this very cool idea on Giggleface Studios for making an egg carton nature/object collecting box. While my daughter is probably a bit young to fully enjoy this, I imagine it would be a crowd pleaser for kids over 3. And you can see all of the photos that relate to this project here.

Comments

  1. Kanda says

    I’m so scared to try painting with JD, although I very much want to. We went to Create-It a couple of weeks ago to paint a present for his nanny to give to her for her birthday. It wasn’t a disaster, but I confirmed my suspicions that JD is pretty much rough and destructive with anything that he gets his hands on. We recently acquired a hand-me-down plastic kids’ table that I’m excited to start using for arts and crafts. We’ve done lots of coloring and drawing with markers and crayons and I think I may be brave enough to dive into the painting realm. I feel like I need to give him boundaries to work within, so this new-old table, along with the excitement of egg cartons may be just what we need – instructions to only paint on paper and not other stuff may not be enough :) I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • says

      Ceramic painting shops are hard at 2-years old. We took N on her first birthday for basic handprints, and had to return twice because her patience wore so thin. I like your strategy for building up from markers and crayons to painting. Something that works for me is discussing what we’re about to do before doing it, which seems to help set expectations. Although this didn’t work at all today when I took Nola shoe shopping today, asked her to stick by my side (and specifically talked with her about not running away), and then she ran all over the store hiding under dress racks and shrieking with delight. Ay ya yay!

  2. says

    Simone would love this gather and match project. I wonder if i could get her to use the paints as directed. NO WAY!She’s a spreader!!!!! One color in one slot? Are you kidding me. So this means i have to paint the egg carton. RATS! (what a lazy a mom)

    • says

      oh, yeah, there’s no way you could get her to paint one color in each slot. that’s definitely a job for super-mom! good luck :)

    • rachelle says

      I love what you and your daughter did with egg cartons. There are so many possibilities — this will have to be one of our next Creative Experiment materials!