Do you like to watch the changing patterns of the flames as fire burns? Or stare at waterfalls because the flow of drops is continually rearranging itself? Then you just might like marble painting! Watching the marble roll around and leave tracks of paint has the same mesmerizing kind of effect. Its hard to stop because its fun to watch the design emerge and change each time you shift the pan.
We first did this project 6 or 7 years ago when the twins were 3 or 4. Since then we have done it every year or so. We’ve even taken the supplies with us to a rehab hospital we used to live near as an activity to do with the residents. The pans you’ll see in the pictures are the same ones we started out using.
Supplies Needed for Marble Painting:
- marbles – the regular size ones (not the big shooters) work best; you need one to share or one per person
- disposable foil or plastic pan with about a 2 inch sides – any size or shape will work; sometimes the foil pans come with plastic lids that work well too
- paper – cut to fit in the bottom of your pan
- basic painting gear (see Painting with Kids: 6 Tips to Get You Ready for suggestions)
Creating Your Marble Painting:
- Gather supplies. It always helps to have everything in one place before you start. Be sure to have several pieces of paper cut to fit in the bottom of your pan.
- Put paint shirts on everyone. I typically don’t cover our painting surface for this project because the paint is fairly well contained. That being said, the marbles do sometimes like to jump out of the pans. When they do you have no control over where they go! Since you will be using (hopefully) a minimal amount of paint this is usually not a big deal. My kids think it is hilarious to watch a marble leave a paint track across the table, onto the bench, over a book and into the rug. I try to encourage motions that will keep the marble in the pan. If it does hop out, though, its really OK. Just have your clean up cloths handy.
- Squirt a small dab of paint onto the paper in the bottom of the pan. It doesn’t have to be in the center; it can be anywhere. Try to avoid big puddles of paint. But, if the kids want to try squirting their own paint, that might be what you get. Don’t panic . . . just go with it!
- Place the marble onto the dab of paint.
- Gently rotate the pan so the marble rolls across the paper. Trying to get the marble to roll back through the dab of paint is a good exercise in concentration and coordination. If that’s too frustrating just pick it up with your fingers and put it where you want it. Sometimes it can be tricky to get the marble to roll somewhere other than just around the edge of the pan. If this happens, try rotating the pan more slowly or tipping it at a slightly steeper angle.
- Add another dab of paint in a different color. This can also be a fun project to do with just one color if you’re doing a “color of the week” or something similar.
- Repeat steps 4-6 until you are satisfied with your design.
- Set aside to dry and make another one!
I often put wet paintings on top of my washing machine to dry. If you’re going to do that, just remember to move the wet clothes into the dryer first!
Other projects you might like:
What have you painted recently?