Early Years Painting with Marbles and Pom Poms

This is a classic early years activity – rolling a ball covered in paint over paper, by tipping up the container it’s in, to create a pattern. It’s great fun and really messy. The children will not be clean at the end of it. So, aprons and hand towels are essential with this technique.

Because of time constraints at toddler group I prepare everything. But if you want the children to practise cutting then you could get them cutting their paper to the appropriate size of the containers they’re using before they start painting.

I chose to use glass marbles and pom poms for my balls. These give a good contrast in using a hard smooth ball and a soft fluffy ball. The children could then see which ball rolled easier and the type of pattern that was left on the paper.

The children were also presented with the option to use a round or square container. Some wanted to use a particular shape whilst others wanted a go at both.

The round container proved a little more difficult to get the ball to go across the paper as the container had a slight hump in the middle – it was easier to get the ball whizzing around the edge. So try to use flat bottomed containers.

Experimenting with the Painting Technique

Once they had tried painting by rolling the marbles and pom poms around the container some of the children then started to keep hold of them to dab and stroke the paper as if the balls were brushes.

Then some of the children started to make finger prints on the paper.

I was delighted to see all this experimentation going on – the children extending the activity for themselves. Fab!

Then one mum came up with the idea of rolling the balls around in the container without the paper and then making a print of it. That produced a great result too!

Choosing Which Colour to Use

The children were given a range of colours to choose from including: light and dark green, light and dark yellow, blue and purple. Now I chose this range as there’s an abundance of blue/purple and yellow flowers around at the moment. Purple, blue and yellow with green just look lovely together. Plus, the colours don’t muddy too much when mixed together giving the final pieces a pleasing look.

These colours are out of our mixed box of paints (which is on offer up to the end of August 2015).

All Ages
As long as the children can pick up the container they can do this activity. It probably engaged the 18 months to three year olds the most. The four year old girls did one picture but left it after that. They need more of a challenge, I think.

I’ve not done this activity with the children before even though I’ve known about it for a long time. After today I recommend you give it a go.

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