crafts · movement · process art · sensory

marble shake painting

Ok folks, there’s no sugarcoating this one. It gets messy. But it’s a BLAST! And there are a few things you can do to contain the paintornado (see what I did there?). Let’s do this.

My kids are at very different places right now – developmentally, emotionally, physically. They got very different experiences out of this activity, and that’s part of the beauty of a process art project. (As a bonus, the paintings you get from this one are beautiful! I use them as thank you cards, bookmarks, and wall art.)

To set up, I filled muffin tins with tempera paint, mixing a few to create new colors. If I had done this project with just Jackson, I would have had him fill the tins and talk about color mixing, but I wanted Lucas to do this one with us and that meant expediting the process. He’s a DOER. Like, DO IT RIGHT NOW. You got it, buddy. Prepped paint tins coming right up!

I used some old boxes and yogurt/cottage cheese containers (thanks kiddos), and lined them all with paper. The containers were perfect for smaller scraps I’ve been hoarding. About 2 minutes into the project, both my kids ditched the boxes and focused solely on the containers. Go boys go!

Because I knew there was no way my kids would use individual spoons for each color, I just put out two, and eventually even these were discarded in favor of fingers. If they are used, the spoons do provide some great hand-eye coordination practice, but it was also great to watch them dig right in. Literally.

In addition to the sensory experiences in this activity, we found ourselves “working” on all sorts of age-appropriate skills: navigating each other’s space, taking turns, asking for materials, building language skills, color recognition, color mixing, fine motor strength.

Jackson was very interested in the process. He wanted to open the container, put the paper in, load with marbles, close the container, shake it to “make music”, and then open it again to see what had happened. It was like a musical science experiment! He was so proud of himself as he practiced manipulating the paper strips and container top.

Lucas painted with the spoon. He loaded his container with marbles and then dumped it into another container. He stacked containers. He shook containers. He painted his hair. He had a BLAST.

As things started to wind down, I had maybe one of the most genius ideas I’ve had as a mother. “Hey boys! Let’s clean the marbles and containers OUTSIDE in the water table! Yay!” Phew. Post-art-activity-cleanup-meltdown averted. If you don’t have a water table, no worries, a bucket or big bowl or sprinkler or hose or bath night will do the trick!

How cool are these?!

Happy painting!



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