Here’s a super fun, active, & collaborative art project for toddlers & preschool age kids: giant marble painting! It’s a great way for kids to improve their fine and gross motor skills as well as their coordination! It looks easy, but it’s pretty tricky getting those big slippery marbles and balls dipped into the paint and then into the container without using their hands/fingers. And then once they start rolling them around, the trick is trying to keep them IN the container! Kids learn to work as a team and improve their hand-eye coordination along the way! And they end up with some pretty snazzy marble prints to boot!
The pictures are pretty self-explanatory so it hardly seems to require a tutorial, but here goes:
- Plastic tongs, one for each child. Have we mentioned how much we love tongs!!! These $.99 kitchen gadgets are such a great way for children as young as 18m to improve their fine motor skills! (Tip: keep repositioning them in their hand so that they are holding them with their hand straight out as if holding a cup, vs. twisting their arm around so their hand is upside down. It’s hard to explain, but you’ll see what we mean – 99% of kids seem to want to do that when they first pick them up, we’re not sure why! But in our experience, they build up muscle memory quicker and have a better grip & leverage if they can learn how to hold them with their hand positioned as if holding a cup, fairly low towards the bottom of the handles.)
- A large, shallow container. You could use a box or large plastic storage container like we used.
- An assortment of medium sized balls and large marbles. The balls have to be small enough for the kids to pick them up with the tongs.
- A few bowls of brightly colored tempera paint. We use sparkle tempera paint for a little added pizzazz! Tip: try to give them colors that “get along” well when blended, such as red/blue, yellow/red, yellow/blue, pink/orange, etc. Orange & purple make brown. Maybe you want brown…
- Several large sheets of medium weight paper, cut to fit the inside the container.
How to Do It:
- Lay a large sheet of paper in the bottom of the container.
- Demonstrate to the kids how to pick up their balls & marbles with the tongs and drop them in the bowl of paint. Explain that the rules of this game are that they have to hold the tongs properly, and…. “NO FINGERS”!
- Swish the balls around in the bowl a bit to coat them with paint, then use the tongs to pick them up and drop them in the container.
- Each child picks up a side of the container and practices “sending” the balls to their partner, back & forth, side to side, etc. Encourage them to move & have fun! See if they can come up with fun ways using movement to make the balls create a pattern with the lines of paint. Invent a fun dance! Sing! Experiment! What happens when you try to bounce the balls up and down?
- Once the kids get enough paint “tracks” on their paper to their liking, remove it and hang it to dry, and replace it with another sheet!