Outdoor Art: Marble Painting

My five-year-old isn’t much of a craft guy, but he does love to play and experiment with paint.  He’s usually up for art if it’s more process-oriented than result-oriented.  A favorite is painting with marbles.

I like to do this activity outside, as the the marble, covered with paint, tends to jump out of the container sometimes.  Better outside than across the carpet!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tempura paint (I prefer the powdered kind, so I can mix the paint kind of watery)
  • Marbles
  • Cups (one for each color of paint used)
  • Spoons (one for each cup)
  • Paper (or, as used today, paper plates)
  • Some kind of tray (shoe box, cake pan, baking pan, serving tray, etc)
  • Marbles (one for each color of paint, extras if you’re doing this with a larger number of kids)

Getting ready:

  • Pour or mix paints in each cup.  I’ve found the marbles roll around better when the paints are more watery, and less sticky)
  • Put a marble and spoon in each cup
  • Affix paper in the tray.  If using a tray larger than the paper, I recommend taping the paper down.  If paper is larger than tray, cut paper down to size.  Today, we used paper plates, which fit inside a round cake pan.  I just had to bend the edges of the paper plate up a little to fit into the pan.

Now paint!

  • Have child spoon a marble or two (or more!) onto the paper in the tray.  If desired, also spoon some extra paint with it.  Today, we used one marble at a time.  My son experimented, doing one painting with just enough paint to cover the marbles.  On a later painting, he glopped spoonfulls of paint with each marble.  It’s fun to see the different results!
  • Tilt the tray back and forth and around to allow the marble(s) to paint the paper.
  • When child is done with a marble, pick it up with a spoon, and put it back in the color corresponding paint cup (or rinse off with water first)

Photos of my son, marble painting this morning…

You may also enjoy…  “Outdoor Art:  Splatter Painting”


  1. Great spin (and roll!) on a painting project. I like the idea of kids using something other than a traditional paint brush, and it looks like fun. Thanks for the post. 🙂


    1. I think it’s important for kids to see that all kinds of materials can be used when creating art. Keeps them from getting locked into the idea that painting is only about paintbrushes on canvas.


  2. wow…yet another fun project….I bet your son is so glad to go back to school…..life at home must be so boring! lol 😉


    1. 🙂 Believe it or not, he really IS excited for school to start (next Tuesday). Thankfully kindergarten is only half day. We’ll still have our afternoons to go out and play.


      1. I feel sorry for his teacher! 🙂 he has had so much adventures all summer….his teacher will need to match what you’ve done for his learning! lol


  3. I have done this before with my boy, and we both enjoyed it! The result was great. I am still needing to get a frame to hang hang his in, turned out like a cool piece of modern art – as done by a 9 year old. 😉


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