A simple pendulum painting activity for kids

A simple pendulum painting activity for kids

Have I mentioned that I’m a high school Science teacher? This STEAM based art activity was right up my street! It’s our first attempt at a technique we’ve been wanting to try for such a long time. It’s not perfect but the process was so much fun for our four year old and the results were still pretty cool.

We used NON TOXIC tempura paints for our first pendulum art attempt. I buy them in powder form and make the colours up as we need them, so find that there is less waste and more economical. They’re also an excellent type of paint for finger painting with kids, due to their non-toxic and washable qualities.

pendulum tempera painting

To set this up was easy but took a bit of playing around with consistency of the paint so that it would flow easily. I started by piercing a small hole into the bottom of a plastic cup, and then one hole on each side of the top of the cup. I threaded some yarn through the top two holes, securing each end with a knot. We used our clothes horse to support and old piece of pipe, which we then looped out cup swing over; then rested in along the top of the clothes rack.

Tempura paint pendulum

I decided to take this one outside. The paints were reasonably dilute and the butcher paper which I had intended using did not withstand the water too well. I totally plan to try this again using watercolour paper though!

So taking it outside onto the concrete pads turned out to be a great choice fro this one. It’s been very warm here still, so the concrete absorbed the water pretty quick leaving the colourful pattern to soak in.

Miss 4 was super excited to get started after I’d given her a demo with just some straight water, which actually works really well on concrete too! So if you don’t have paints at hand, and want something fun to do with groups of little kids, do it with water on a dry day.

Our youngest is super independent and was very keen to pour the selection of coloured paints into the cup herself. Due to the dilution of the paints (so that it would run easily through the hole in the bottom of the cup) it did start to pour out immediately causing a bit of a puddle before she had time to start swinging it. If you have older children who are happy to work in pairs and groups, it’s ideal if one pours whilst the other starts the pendulum immediately. On this case though, she was really enjoying her independence and the results were still great.

THERE’S A VIDEO OF OUR PENDULUM ART ACTIVITY AT THE BOTTOM

tempura paint pendulum

To get the pendulum going, I observed her pushing the cup back and forth, which she soon noticed didn’t create a spiral motion; then holding the pipe and rocking it from side to side, causing the cup to swing in a circular motion and create pretty elliptical shapes with the paint. It was lovely to see her try out different ways of moving the pipe and watching how it affected the motion of the cup.

tempura paint pendulum

Next came the yellow paint. It was too thick and didn’t pour. This presented a great learning opportunity too. We talked about why the paint didn’t pour and what we might have to do to solve the problem. Of she went with adding some water and giving it a good stir.

tempura paint pendulum

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