This super simple printmaking process is a quick ticket to creating a colorful bunch of Indian corn perfect for celebrating the fall holidays! Grab some markers and get ready to settle in for this easy fall craft!

Why Indian corn….

Most of you know that I’m a homeschool mama.  Every fall, no matter my kid’s ages, we seem to spend a lot of time circling back to talk about Native Americans and pioneers and the growing of food.  You get the idea.  Corn had a huge part in sustaining the people of that time.  As you start this Indian corn art project adding in a book or two can add a wealth of information to your lesson with little research on your part.  Score! 

Here are a few of my favorites…

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Making Indian corn…

Indian corn is just plain pretty. It’s such a symbol of the fall season, and is often used for wreaths and other decorations.  The huge variety of colors make it the perfect subject for this fall craft.

First things first.  You’ll need to prepare your Styrofoam printing plate.  We used full size dinner plates.  The cheap, flimsy version of these plates is perfectly acceptable here.  It’s actually easier to cut and make impressions here so don’t waste the more expensive ones!  If you’re feeling a little environmentally guilty using Styrofoam for this project please consider recycling plates that have already been used.  This type of plate is often used at parties to hold no more than pretzels or a cookie or two.  A quick wipe with a rag and these plates are totally ready for their second life!

The shape of an corn cob will need to be cut out of each plate, only one per kid.  You can cut it or your kiddos can- whatever is easiest!

Get the Indian corn template here…

I made you a corn cob template. If you’d like to use it to trace the Indian corn printing plate just use the subscription form below.  Upon confirming your subscription you’ll get a subscriber only password that will give you instant access to my Free Resource Library.  There you’ll find the thumbnail for this fall craft under the heading “Art Tutorials and Printable Prompts.”  Click the thumbnail and the PDF will pop right up.

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Creating the corn kernels…

I had planned a printmaking lesson centering on Indian corn for my kindergarten through second grade co-op art class.  My first thought was to have the kids use a dull pencil to “draw” or carve each kernel into the Styrofoam printing plate .  I used this same method in this butterfly printing lesson and it worked beautifully.

I got to thinking that those small shapes might be tricky for little hands and especially carving the same thing again and again.  Instead of drawing each kernel of corn we used the “cap” end of a skinny Crayola marker. 

Press the cap into the Styrofoam over and over creating the look of a corn kernel each time.  It’s helpful to look at a real ear of Indian corn here and discuss how the corn kernels are arranged.  They are tightly packed while not overlapping.  Encourage kids to pack their circles tightly so they have lots of corn kernels to add color to!

Adding color to the Indian corn….

This is the fun part.  Once that printing plate is done the hard work is over! That Styrofoam printing plate can be used over and over to create as many Indian corn prints as your young artist wants. 

Indian corn has a beautiful array of colors.  Take a few minutes to look at some real Indian corn, use one of the books above, or turn to good ol’ Google to notice the colors that can be seen.  Instruct kids to use washable markers to color corn kernels.  This doesn’t have to precise.  Splash color onto each kernel.  If colors mix together- all the better.  Real Indian corn has subtle colors that can be hard to find in kid’s washable markers.  Colors that have mixed together will become a bit more neutral which is totally okay!

Printing your Indian corn…

Once your printing plate is filled with color grab a spray bottle filled with water and a clean paper towel.  Spray and wipe down a plain piece of white paper.  Immediately lay the damp paper on top of the markered printing plate.and smooth paper down so all the paper makes contact with the Styrofoam. 

The damp paper serves to re-activate the dry marker and transfer it from the printing plate to the paper.  If the paper is too dry very little marker will transfer, leaving behind a super faint print.  If the paper is too wet the print will be blurry.  There is quite a bit of wiggle room with how wet the paper should be.  For younger kids I recommend spraying the paper, wiping it down, and then letting them take over.  Older kids can take charge of the spray bottle themselves.

Print some more….

Now that your kids have made their printing plate and know the printing process they can make print more ears of Indian corn quickly and easily.  Just add more color using the same washable markers.  There’s no need to wipe the printing plate down unless you want to.  The color residue from the first printing will mix with the new colors and that’s just fine!  The colors naturally found in Indian corn are both bright and subtle.  A little color mixing will make this fall craft all the more realistic looking! 

Adding finishing touches to your Indian corn fall craft….

There’s a lot of wiggle room in what you choose to do with your printed ear of Indian corn.  You could make them into a wreath, incorporate them into a larger artwork, or hang them on their own.  We gathered them into little bundles of three and attached a few strands of corn husk made from a paper bag.  

To make the husk give each kid a piece of brown construction paper or brown paper bag about 4 x 6.  Cut lengthwise strips about 1/2 inch wide.  It’s okay of these are shaky or irregular.  Nature is like that too!  You could even encourage kids to crinkle them up about so that they look more like real corn husk.  

We gathered the ears of Indian corn and the corn husk strips together and used a stapler to attach them.  You could use school glue or glue sticks if you were a bit more patient!

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The Artists and the ELements is a year long visual arts curriculum that connects the elements of art, art history, and hands on art projects!