Corn Cob Prints

conr cob and its print made in this activity

We are going to make corn cob prints…using the actual corn cob! The aim of this activity is to encourage children to explore natural materials around us.Observe the wonderful patterns found in nature and get inspired by nature’s designs to create their own art pieces based on observations of real plants.

This activity can be adapted to any vegetable or fruit with a 3D repeated pattern, e.g. pineapple, unripe blackberries, raspberries or strawberries (when ripe they are too soft), artichokes or even green pine cones.

Get your children to explore any interesting designs in the garden, fruit & veg aisles of a supermarket or bushes and trees on a nature walk.

With the later, please exercise some caution while picking any wild berries. Do not let your children to pick any wild fruit you are not familiar with in order to avoid any skin reactions or accidentally ingesting anything that is not edible.

Equipment and material

corn cob, scissors, colours, paint bruses and paper

  • Pencil, a pair of scissors, 2 paint brushes
  • Few white sheets of paper (depending on how many prints you want to create)
  • Acrylic paint (yellow, dark & light green)
  • Corn cob with the husk

Create the pieces before paiting

1. Create a corn cob stencil. Encourage children to observe the shape and size of the corn cob first, Get them to draw the cob shape in the middle of a white A4 piece of paper.

Help children to cut it out by folding the paper in half, creating a cob-shaped “hole”.

corn husk cut out from paper craft

2.Draw and cut out the husk using another piece of white paper.

Children could trace the actual corn husk or attempt to draw their own leaf-shapes. You will use it later to print on and stick it onto the corn cob.

3. Prepare the Corn cob roller. Peel the green husk off very carefully, keep it as you will need it for painting and printing later on.

Gently pick some corn kernels from one side of the cob to obtain a “handle” that will make it easier to paint it and roll it. It is better to do this on the spiky narrow end.

corn cob and husk sectioned and ready for the craft

Educational Tips

While peeling the husk and picking the corn kernels off the middle ear help your children to observe and discuss how the corn cob is made.

  • Address its structure, layers, different sizes of the kernels at the opposite ends etc.
  • Explain that the corncob is also called an ear of maze, let children to notice it is a kind of a pole on which the kernels grow.
  • Ask them to touch and feel the surface of the cob, the kernels and the husk with their fingertips.
  • Encourage them to use words like rough, smooth, soft, sharp, cold, moist etc.
  • You can have a wonderful discussion about why and how corn is planted in the fields, how the plant looks like at different stages or that they are either to be harvested for human consumption or grown to feed the animals.

To provide your children with even richer sensory experience and to teach them more about food and our relationship to nature, you could keep the kernels that you peeled off to cook them and taste it later.

They could even test tasting some raw kernels (use a young fresh cob). Get the children to smell the fresh cob and compare it to the smell of a cooked one later.

Paiting and Printing woith the Corn Cob

4. Place the cob stencil on top of a clean white sheet.

5. Hold the corn roller by the “handle”. Use a paintbrush dipped in just a few drops of paint to paint the surface of the kernels on your roller. Make sure the paint is evenly distributed.

corn cob ready for printing, colour yellow and green on the side

6. Holding the stencil with one hand, roll the cob slowly and carefully over it.

acttion ofprinting using the corn cob in yellow

corn cob shape drawed on paper and printed using corn cob and paint

Remove the stencil and, voila’, you’ve painted a perfect corn hob!

cut out the printed corn cob from the paper sheet

Educational tips

Provide children with some practice paper (old newspaper, scrap paper) to test the right amount of paint to paint the cob before printing it on the final sheet.

Demonstrate that both insufficient and excessive amount of paint will not produce the desired “corn pattern”. Testing and seeing the “mistakes” first will teach them to predict and evaluate the results before taking action, preventing future waste of art material.

Although this activity is best done with acrylic paint, if you don’t have any, you can use thick water based paint, just make sure you don’t add any water. Roll the corn slowly and carefully not to smudge the printed pattern.

If you want more than one print on the same sheet, wait until the previous one dried completely before adding the next corncob.

The last important detail

7. Paint the corn husk that you peeled off the cob earlier. Remember to test the right amount of paint.

kids painting husk in green ready for printing on paper

Paint in the same direction as the lines on the leaf. To make your corn look even more realistic you can use the two different shades of green and either mix the colours or paint the two parts of the husk with different shades of green.

You will then use the painted husk to print onto the paper leaves you cut out in step 2. Do this on top of a piece of scrap paper as your actual husk might be larger than your paper-husk.

8. Finally, glue the printed husk on the cob print. Evaluate your work by observing the details and comparing your art piece to a real corn cob.

print of corn cob in yellow nad husk in green, activity finished

Adaptation for 2-4 years olds.

when a younger one wants to take part in the acitvity, Instead of using the “cob-hole” stencil, get children to roll the painted cob along the white sheet of paper, covering the whole sheet with the kernel pattern.

When dry, an adult can draw and cut out as many cob shapes as needed from each paper. Repeat with green husk prints on another sheet of paper.

Create a corn field collage, letting children to help you sticking the husk onto the corncobs.

For older children and school projects

If you are making this with children aged 7-9, and possibly 9-11, you could extend this to a whole project about Corn:

  • Corn production from seed (kernel) to a fully grown plant, study, draw and possibly act out the full life cycle of a corn plant.
  • Research information online about where, how and why corn is produced
  • Research all products made of corn, organize a field trip to see and draw a corn field

Research any famous artworks including corn, paint in a style of that artist, or prepare a Corn Harvest feast.

You could also create a full set of different corn-based art works that can be displayed alongside the real corn cobs or photographs of the real corn plants, in between food products using corn/maize. Celebrate and appreciate every stage!