Kid-friendly recipe: Artistic toast

By Victoria Gonzalez and Susie B. Grimm

Enlist your little ones in this fun project to help them scratch their creative itch by making toast that is as original and creative as they are — but also delicious!

Remember that you can use anything you have kicking around in your pantry and refrigerator to make the toast scenes. Yogurt is a healthier alternative to cream cheese, just don’t microwave it. Chopped fruit makes pretty butterfly wings and flowers, and nuts can look like perfect rocks, tree trunks or even petals. You can use small broccoli florets as bushes and trees, cream cheese as fluffy clouds and even apple stems as bug antennae.

Let your kids get inspired and run with it. Do they want to make a kitty cat or dog instead of the bear? Maybe they want to create an artistic, cream-cheese-fueled self-portrait using chocolate chips? Anything goes! The only limits are your imagination and your taste buds.

Learning Goal

To generate artistic ideas and relate personal experiences to make art.

By designing your toast together, you and your little one are experimenting, conceiving and developing new artistic ideas and work — in essence, you are creating art! This is one of the four cognitive and physical ways in which we make and learn about art, according to the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards (NCAS).

To foster creativity with this activity, keep in mind these creative practices:

  • Imagine: Help your little one image or identify a concept to explore in an artistic way. For example, reimagining chopped fruit as a butterfly!
  • Investigate: Help your little one practice observation skills through exploration and experimentation, such as testing the results with yogurt instead of cream cheese.
  • Construct: Help your little one construct an idea by combining part of an element. For example, can broccoli really make a tree?
  • Reflection: Help your little one reflect and think deeply about their work and ask them to imagine how it might change next time.


4 Slices of toasted bread
Cream cheese, a few tablespoons
3 Flavors of marmalade or jam (we used lingonberry, apricot and strawberry, but you can use any flavor you want!)
Peanut butter, a few tablespoons
2 Chocolate chips
2 Banana slices
A few almonds, sliced or whole
1 Maraschino cherry, stem attached, sliced in half
A few spinach leaves
2 Pinches of poppy or chia seeds
1 Orange slice
12 White chocolate chips
10 Sunflower seeds


A toothpick
Dull knives, such as butter knives
4 small microwave-safe bowls
A sharper knife


Butterfly and Sunset Toast

Make the colorful cream cheese. Take a tablespoon of cream cheese and put it in a bowl. Repeat for two more bowls. Next, add a tablespoon of jam of your choice to one of the bowls. Repeat using the other bowls and jam flavors. Place each in the microwave for 15 seconds. Using a towel, carefully take the bowls out of the microwave (they might be hot!)  and stir the cream cheese and jam around. If the cream cheese feels too stiff, pop it in the microwave for 15 more seconds until it’s easy to mix with the jam. Stir it around, adding more jam to intensify the color, until you get the color you like. You’ve made your colorful cream cheese!

Imagine: Ask your child to think about what other things you could mix with the cream cheese to make other colors and flavors. You could go sweet with chocolate syrup or maybe savory with mustard.

Now, to make a sunset, take the dull knife and dip it into the darkest color of cream cheese you created. Spread a little bit of it on the top part of the slice of bread and spread a little bit of the other two colors on the toast, with the lightest one on the bottom of the slice and the other color in the middle, trying to make each color line equal in size. You can keep the lines between the colors solid or use the tip of the knife to blur them a little.

Investigation: Ask your child: Do they like the way the colors of the sunset look? What does it look like when they blend and swirl the edges of each color a bit? Does the color change?

Take your orange slice and cut it in half lengthwise — now, you’ll have two semicircles. Place one of the halves on the bottom of your toast, with the flat part facing down. Then, take the other orange semicircle and carefully peel or cut away the rind. Carefully cut out four triangles out of it and put them on top of your orange sun, forming rays of sunshine. Take 12 white chocolate chips and arrange them in two groups of six to form clouds at the top.

Reflection: Ask your child to think about and describe what other colors they’ve seen in sunsets and practice counting to 12 by making clouds with different numbers of white chocolate chips.

For the butterfly, spread whatever color of cream cheese you like on your toast. It can be just one color or all three. You decide! Next, take your almond and place it on the center, with the pointy end facing up. Then, take your two banana slices and place them on each side of the almond, near the top. Place the cherry slices underneath each banana slice. To finish off your butterfly’s antennae, cut the cherry stem in half with the scissors and place each half on the top of the almond, forming a V shape.

Construct: Ask your child: What other ingredients can you use to make butterfly wings and what other bugs can you make using those ingredients? Ladybugs, fireflies and ants are all great ideas!

Peanut Butter Teddy

To make a peanut butter teddy, spread some plain cream cheese on your toast. Then, using a dull knife, take a dollop of peanut butter and put it in the center. You might need adult help with this part, but carefully spread the peanut butter so that you form a circle. It’s ok if it’s not perfect! Take a little bit more peanut butter and place two little dollops of it near the top of the circle. Now, using a toothpick, clean up the edges to form the ears. They can be pointy or round. Make eyes and a mouth with the chocolate chips. To finish off your bear, give it a smile! A toothpick does the job well.

Investigation: Ask your child: What other animals can we draw on the toast with these ingredients and what shapes can we use to make them? How about a kitty made out of triangles and an oval? What other tools could we use to make drawing on the toast easier?

Happy Palm Tree and Flowers

Now, for your happy palm tree, take some cream cheese and spread it on your last slice to make the sky. Then, spread the bottom half of the bread with peanut butter to make yummy soil for your palm tree. To make the trunk, place two rows of three almonds on the peanut butter. Add a few more almonds to the top to form branches. Take your spinach leaves from the bottom, where the stem is, and cut into diamonds. If the stem of the spinach is a little long to fit on your toast, cut a little off. You can snack on the rest of the spinach leaves as you work! Arrange the spinach diamonds on top of the almonds to make your palm tree. If you want a fancier piece of toast, take the long bits you removed from the spinach leaves and place near the bottom of your toast and make flowers by placing a pinch of poppy or chia seeds on top and finish them by putting five sunflower seed “petals” around each stem.

Enjoy … if you think it’s all too pretty to eat!

Keep the Conversation Going

  • Ask your child to think about and name all the shapes you’re using in creating each toasty work of art: diamond spinach palm fronds, triangle rays of orange sunshine, circular chocolate chips, banana slices and cherries, the semicircle orange sun and even oval almond slices. If you’re making a custom design, what shapes are you using?
  • Practice counting out the quantities of each ingredient as you put in on the toast, such as the clouds made with six white chocolate chips each, the 10 sunflower seed petals, four orange rays of sunshine, and so on.

Recipe inspired by:

VIBRANT & PURE by Adeline Waugh: Unicorn Toast

Toast Slices Undergo Edible Makeovers into Rock Gardens, Pantone Swatches, and Flower Beds by Grace Ebert


Kid-friendly recipe: Quick and easy cream pie

— Kid-friendly recipe: Sandwich cake (Sandwichón)

This article was originally published on PBS SoCal’s At-Home Learning initiative.

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