Cornstarch Packing Peanuts – The Guilt Free Art Project for Kids

Summary: Art projects often mean just creating more junk to throw away. Not the same day of course, but eventually. Here’s something you can feel good about tossing.

Our latest cornstarch packing poeanut  creations. Going from left to right: Two legged dinosaur eating man, big six legged creature, triceritops gouging man, somehting else, and gian tarantula attacking man

Our latest cornstarch packing peanut creations. Going clockwise from left to right: Two legged dinosaur eating man, big long neck dinosaur fighting man, triceratops gouging man, small tyrannosaurus rex, and giant tarantula attacking man.

Though my partner had experimented with them while she was a preschool teacher, my first introduction the art project potential of the cornstarch packaging peanut was at The Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose. They have an art room upstairs for littler kids and that day’s project was making packing peanut sculptures.

We made little dinosaurs and we just had a blast.

These cornstarch packing peanuts are just amazing. You can buy them but why would you if you can avoid it? But you must get the cornstarch ones, don’t get the foam ones, it won’t work. If you order anything online, or know anyone who does, or who works in a store or ships anything on a regular basis, there’s a good chance you have a free supply to tap. Try those sources first.

They’re 100% biodegradable and edible. I mean edible as in “you can eat them if you want”, but you’ll only do that once as they don’t taste very good. A bit like paper actually but much easier to chew. Or Pirate’s Booty if they left out the flavoring.

To build your sculptures all you need is a plate or bowl with a damp sponge or damp paper towel in it, some sheets of cardboard for the base (cereal boxes will work great) and some packing peanuts.

You lightly dab the end of the packing peanut on the sponge or damp paper towel and then stick it to the cardboard or another peanut. It sticks instantly. You can tear, fold, pinch and roll the peanuts into any shape or size you need. It goes really fast and it’s super easy so you can work intuitively. No need for elaborate plans. If something doesn’t come out the way you want, tear off what you don’t like and fix it. It’s just cornstarch.

You can decorate with marker if you want and one of the best things about this project is that it’s guilt free. Once your done admiring your creations, just rip off the cardboard base and toss it in the recycling. The peanuts can just go in the compost, the garden, the trash or washed down the sink. They dissolve into nothing.

Much better than so many other kids projects that leave you with a Frankenstein patchwork of popsicle sticks, glue, glitter, beads and mass-produced trinkets that end up in our landfills. Not that we don’t do those as well, but we keep it to a minimum.

This project has a big bang for little buck and little effort. Even little kids without much coordination or ability to think in three dimensions can at least make something with very little effort, even if it is just a pile of packing peanuts stuck together.

Below are some detail shots of our packing peanut sculptures.

Deatail of tricepatops gouging man

Detail of triceratops gouging man. I helped with the head a little on this one. The blood, well of course that was my daughter's idea.

Detail of giant tarantula attacking man. I made this one.

Detail of giant tarantula attacking man. I made this one.

Detail of long neck dinosuar attacking man. My daughter made this one herself.

Detail of long neck dinosaur attacking man. My daughter made this one herself.

Detail of erupting volcano

Detail of dinosaur in erupting volcano. I helped a little bit with the volcano. The dinosaur and the red marker details were my daughters handiwork.

That’s it for now.

File Under: Cheap Children’s Art Projects – Biodegradable Art Projects for Kids – Art Activities for Kids – Sculpture Ideas for Kids and Children – Art Ideas for Children

One Response to “Cornstarch Packing Peanuts – The Guilt Free Art Project for Kids”

  • Raewyn Says:

    We made these last year in the library for an impromptu craft and again this afternoon as I have just received another big box of packing peanuts from the inwards goods librarians – yay!


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