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.
Setting up our Pendulum Painting Experience
First, we 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.
Exploring the Process
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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