Pendulum painting in preschool

Pendulum painting is something I thought my class would enjoy going outdoors to try so we set it up during one of our last weeks of school and gave it a go…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

To set up our pendulum painting experience, we first had to find a spot that would work well. Since we were using washable tempera paint, I wasn’t concerned about getting paint on our deck or driveway because it could all be washed away. So we decided to hang the paint up from the deck that is located just outside the door of our outdoor classroom…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Although there must be a ton of other bloggers that have blogged about pendulum painting, I didn’t have time to go back and see how they managed the process so this was an on-the-spot learning experience for me and my students. I placed several large sheets of paper on the deck for the paint to pour out on and we held the paper down with rocks so the wind wouldn’t blow it away while we painted…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

I didn’t know if I should add water to the paint or not but in the end, we did add just a touch of water to the paint to make it run through the hole in the bottom of our hanging cup a little better.  After I had the pendulum painting set up, one of my students decided he would give it a try so I showed him how to pull back on the string holding the cup filled with paint and then let go…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

It wasn’t long before more of my students wanted to give it a try so the children gathered around and took turns filling up the paint cup with paint and giving the pendulum painting a try…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

This process was truly worthwhile – messy – but worthwhile.  The children had to constantly reflect on how high to hold the cup so it would really swing across the paper, how to fill up the cup with paint and then quickly get set to swing the cup so the paint wouldn’t all drip out before they were ready, and whether it was better to push the cup or just let go of the cup as they each took a turn at the pendulum…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

This wasn’t just a painting process, this was a process that invited critical thinking, coordination, cooperation, collaboration, and lots of discussion about what might work better along the way. Talk about super cool learning going on…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

At first, I stayed very involved in the process but it wasn’t long before I didn’t need to direct the children. One little girl appointed herself as “keeper of the paint” and kept everyone filled up on paint while the other children naturally took turns and watched closely as the paint cup swooshed across the paper…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

In the end, some of the children did get paint on their shoes and legs and hands and it is for this reason that I am so grateful to have parents that support what we do. I am not sure how I would have kept the paint from getting on shoes with the way we had this set up but being this was my first time giving it a try, I learned a great deal about the process and so did the kids…

Pendulum Painting in Preschool by Teach Preschool

Oh, and as a bonus, we ended up with some pretty cool looking pendulum painted rocks too!

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By |2013-06-13T23:24:39+00:00June 13th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Diana June 14, 2013 at 7:51 am - Reply

    When I pendulum paint, I use a campfire tri-pod and funnels. It’s one of my favorite activities of the year.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      A campfire tripod and funnels – that is a great plan. Next year, I will have to plan a little better for this:)

  2. Veens June 14, 2013 at 7:54 am - Reply

    This is on my to-do list with Aarya looks like a lot of fun!

  3. Jenny June 14, 2013 at 8:43 am - Reply

    You could do this on a water day so the children are barefoot and rinsing off in other areas if the playground.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 14, 2013 at 3:20 pm - Reply

      That’s a great idea Jenny! Right now everything around us is all wooded so no shoes off but I keep hoping my husband will finish one area so we can go barefoot!

  4. Scott June 14, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Every time I see this, I want to do it. This may need to be a part of our science explorations in first grade next year.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      I think your first graders could really do something special with an idea like this Scott!

  5. Maribel June 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I am fairly new to Teach Preschool and I wish I had discovered it sooner. As a grandma of 3 preschoolers, I appreciate your suggested activities so much. I especially love knowing rationale for the activities and what kids achieve from doing them. You have a fan for life!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm - Reply

      Welcome to the Grandma Club of Teach Preschool Maribel! I am a fan of yours for life too 🙂

  6. Sarah June 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm - Reply

    What a lot of fun! I love this and we will be enjoying this activity with my kids this weekend for sure! thank you for sharing. I just found your blog, and am so thrilled to find so many wonderful ideas. thank you!

  7. Karyn July 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the inspiration! I did this for my daughter’s 4th birthday party. Due to the nature of the event, I wanted the kids to be able to do it more independently, especially when distracted by other activities. I was more interested in the fun creation than the learning process of figuring out how to cover the hole until just the right time, and I didn’t want to need to buy bunches of expensive paint. I think my solution was brilliant, if I do say so myself 🙂
    I had a collection of Dr. Brown’s baby bottles that I inherited but didn’t use. These are rather expensive new because they have a fancy self-venting device inside. I hung a cup much like you did, but cut the bottom out of it so it would hold an upside-down bottle. Then I filled the bottle with paint, made the hole in the nipple a bit larger, and just set out a selection of different colored bottles for the kids. It was very easy for them to switch out colors, and I was able to sit back and watch them start creating right away. The nature of the Dr. Brown bottles means that the paint comes out in a nice steady stream.
    I experimented with conventional bottles and restaurant mustard containers. You can make these work similarly as long as you make a hole in the side halfway up to vent it and then of course only fill half way with paint.
    Either way allows the bottles to be pre-filled with paint and not to leak until it is placed in the holster.

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