Painting with marbles is a fun and unique active art project that encourages kids to explore the relationship between motion and design while they roll paint covered marbles around on paper to make abstract art.
We loved painting with marbles because it was an interesting break from more traditional paint and brush art projects. It's an excellent activity for kids who aren't inclined towards drawing work.
The focus of the project is on the creative process the the exploration of the science of motion. Painting with marbles is definitely a science art project and will entice kids to engage in a screen-free, creative activity!
First, gather the materials so everything is ready to go, go, go!
What you need:
- a container of some sort with high sides. We used a cake pan and an old pyrex baking dish. You can also upcyle a cardboard box, which will eliminate cleaning!
- pieces of paper, white or colored that fit snugly inside your chosen containers
- marbles, any number
- paint, preferably in two or more colors. We used black and white paint for contrast, but you can choose whatever colors you wish. I recommend washable paint.
- small bowls for the paint. A muffin tin will also work.
- spoons (optional)
- paper towels for messy fingers
Painting with Marbles Instructions
First, place a sheet of paper into the baking tray or box. Squeeze paint into separate bowls.
Next, drop one marble into each bowl of paint and stir it around so that it is covered in paint.
Some kids do not like to get their hands messy and will prefer to fish the marble out of the paint with a spoon. Others will enjoy the mess and reach right in with their fingers. Either method is okay!
Using the spoon, or fingers, drop the paint covered marble on to the paper. We started with one marble at a time but it doesn't matter how many marbles you start out with. Experiment!
Slowing tilt the pan or box back and forth, and side to side, to roll the marble around. The marbles will leave streaks of paint on the paper, creating abstract art!
Add more marbles and colors when desired.
It's wonderful to watch kids thoughtfully manipulate and observe the action of the marbles. Little physicists in training!
Once the child has decided their artwork is completed, carefully remove the paper from the tray and place somewhere safe to dry.
Notes and Questions
What kind of paint is best? Use tempera, or poster paint. Paints like watercolors are too thin. I recommend washable paint, as an escaped marble or two is inevitable, as are paint covered fingers!
What do you do with this art? Anything you want! Set it aside to use in collages, use it to make greeting cards, or frame single specimens.
What size container? That is up to you. Use what you have on hand and try out different shapes.
What kind of paper? Use a sturdy paper like construction paper, card stock or finger paint paper. Plain office paper is fine, but it may become too saturated with paint. If your paper doesn't fit snugly in the box or pan, tape it to the bottom.
Do I have to use marbles? No! Experiment with different sized balls. Ping-pong, golf balls or tennis balls are excellent choices.