Marble painting with preschoolers

Marble painting with preschoolers

As you might have guessed, we have been exploring marbles and you just can’t explore marbles without including a little marble painting in your planning…

Every time I introduce marble painting to a group of preschoolers, I change the process a bit. I adjust the process based on the age of the children, the size or kind of box we will use, the kind of paint we use, how many children will paint at one time, and anything else I think will need adjusted to make the process fun and age appropriate for the children in my class…

For my PreK class, I let them squeeze out some tempera paint on a sheet of paper and then they were good to go.  You will notice in the photo above that I also set out some plastic wrap.  We would have wrapped the box with the plastic wrap if needed to help keep the marbles from falling out of the box but we decided it wasn’t needed.   By adding the plastic wrap, the children can still see inside the box while they roll the marbles through the paint with out worrying about the marbles falling out…

But since these children were older, they were able to manage the marbles and the box without needing to add the plastic wrap.  It was actually good eye-hand coordination and a little practice in multi-tasking for them to tilt the box, keep an eye on the marbles so they don’t fall out of the box, and direct the marbles through the paint all at the same time…

Once the marbles get a little too much paint on them, it is a good idea to rinse some of the paint off in between each child’s turn.  This helps keep the marbles rolling through the paint better. Otherwise, the marbles can get all goopy and not roll very well at all…

Some of the children had a little trouble getting the coordination of moving the large box from side to side.  If they preferred, they could have a partner hold one end of the box to help them tilt the box back and forth. Working with a partner is also a challenge because the children have to tilt the box the same way at the same time – not an easy thing to do…

Regardless of the challenges involved in marble painting, the children stayed engaged in the process. Simplifying the process does not always make the project more fun – those little challenges along the way can actually be an important part of the process…

Our marble painting turned out bright, colorful, and beautiful…

All that paint, movement, concentration, and freedom in the process and almost no mess – now how do you like that?

Can you see the name hidden behind all that paint?



  • andiejaye Posted January 24, 2012 12:43 am

    I see Kendall’s name! haha… This is one of Bear’s favorite activities.. [he calls it “shake ball art”]. I like the idea of putting the clear wrap over the top. We might have to try that this week!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 24, 2012 12:53 am

      Yay! Good eye there:)

  • jane Posted January 24, 2012 8:50 am

    This post comes at the perfect time, we are doing this projcect in my class tomorrow. I haven’t done this one in a while so it is good to read about your experiance. I feel a little more sure of my process/how I want to introduce it to my students. Thanks so much!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 25, 2012 1:31 am

      That’s great Jane! I hope it goes well and have fun:)

  • Wende Posted January 24, 2012 8:49 pm

    I found an idea to use large cylinders, like oatmeal cans to slide a piece of paper into. Add the marbles and paint, put on the lid and shake away! I am going to use the big container my dishwasher tablets come in.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 25, 2012 1:32 am

      The cylinder painting is a great idea Wende!

  • Maggie Posted January 24, 2012 9:37 pm

    I have loved marble painting since I did it as a kid. It’s one of my strongest, early school memories! Thanks for sharing your tips and the great pictures of their marble painting projects.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 25, 2012 1:32 am

      You are welcome Maggie 🙂

  • Kristina Posted January 24, 2012 11:07 pm

    Beautiful! I love marble painting. We did it again on Saturday because it had been too long. It never gets old! We did it in a tin that has a lid and it was perfect for my crazy shaker 🙂

    We might have to try it again tomorrow!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 25, 2012 1:33 am

      I love all the different ways you can possibly marble paint! The ideas are endless!

  • Lisa Posted January 25, 2012 8:03 pm

    My preschooler will love this! I’ve seen marble painting before, but never tried it because I worried about the mess. I think we’ll try it first with the plastic wrap on top! I just found your website from Facebook and I’m looking forward to following along! So many great ideas here!

    Criss-Cross Applesauce

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 26, 2012 8:35 pm

      I hope you will give it a try!

  • Chris Posted January 27, 2012 5:09 pm

    On the to do list. This art would make beautiful cards or wrapping paper too.

  • Auemetua Lotomau Posted November 12, 2017 1:45 am

    Thank you so much. I love painting with marbles too. The children in our centre request this play a lot.

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