Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Painting with Marbles

If you are looking for a mess-free way to incorporate painting into your preschooler's week, I have just the thing: marble paintings. They are fun, easy, and the results are quite lovely.

We love painting around here. And, usually, I am a good sport when it comes to the messes that inevitably come along for the painting ride. Lately, however, I've been trying to conserve my energy for little things like feeding my family and basic hygiene. Enter the marble paintings. This technique allows my daughter an outlet for working with paint, but requires minimal set-up or clean-up on my behalf. Win-win, I'd say.

First, find a shallow box (a shoe box is fine, even a pizza box lid would work here. But do try to keep the box size manageable for your child to hold). Place a blank piece of paper in the box. Round up some marbles and paint (we used tempera).

You can either squirt the paint into individual cups, as we did, or you can paint the marbles with the desired paint. As I mentioned, I wanted a relatively mess-free experience, so we opted for paint cups.
Drop your marble into the paint and swirl it around to coat the entire surface of the marble. Then remove from the paint (we used 2 forks, to drain the excess paint and to keep fingers clean) and drop onto the paper. Pick up the box and tilt it side to side, forward and back. Go on, really give it a good wiggle! The marble makes a neat trail as it rolls around on the paper.

Once the paint has worn off the marble and it stops leaving much of a trail, you can re-dip it in the same color or move on to the next marble and the next color (this is assuming you are meticulously neat and have one marble per paint color, and go to great lengths to keep them separate, as we did. Well, I did, anyway).
As we did painting after painting, my daughter pretty much scrapped the 2-fork method of removing excess paint and used her fingers instead. She really got a kick out of plopping a heavily-coated marble on the paper. It made such a pleasing "plop" and puddle of paint in that spot before being rolled around the box.
Children love doing a familiar activity in a new way. It's fun to take paint and use objects other than a paint brush or fingers to make a picture. We've experimented with using combs, forks, sponge pieces, etc. and get different (but great) results every time.

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