Marble Painting Craft Idea

Are there any closet neat freaks out there?  You know who you are, the thought of giving paint to small children makes you shiver. We might not all be neat freaks but everyone has those days when the thought of cleaning up yet another artistic endeavour sends you around the bend.  So what do you do if your children want to paint and you can’t handle anymore art activities that day? Marble painting is the answer!

It is a win-win situation because the children get to create neat paintings, but they never actually come into contact with the paint, so the clean-up is a breeze.  Marble painting is one of those activities that appeals to a wide range of ages of children.  They have to be old enough to hold a box, that’s it.

Tempera Paint in a few colours
A few marbles
A cardboard box with one side cut off (the cardboard tray that 24 pop cans comes in works well)
Plain paper

If you don’t have a cardboard tray then find a cereal box and cut out one side.  Or a shoe box with the lid off.  You need a bottom and four sides.  The larger the box, the bigger the picture you can make.


1. Cut your paper so that if fits inside your box.  It should lay flat.  Don’t worry if it’s too small, it won’t really affect the picture.

2. Put a small dollop of paint in the middle of the paper.  Put another dollop of a different colour of paint an inch or two beside the first dollop.  Add a third if you wish.

3. Place the marbles into the box.

4. Gently tilt the box so that the marbles roll around on the paper and through the dollops of paint.  The rolling marbles will create trails of the paint colours everywhere they roll.  The paint trails will mix and new colours will emerge.

5. Keep tilting the box every which way until you are happy with your creation.


6. Remove the paper from the box and add a fresh sheet of paper for the next child.

It only takes young children a minute or two as they watch an older child marble painting to understand how to make the marbles roll.  Younger children aren’t as accurate in getting the marbles to roll exactly through the paint dollops but eventually the marbles will get covered in paint.  The pictures always turn out lovely and different every time.  Small children love to hear the marbles roll about and see the paint form a trail as the marble rolls.  Older children enjoy trying to mix certain colours or experimenting with their tilting technique to elicit a specific result.

A word of caution, beware of the excited marble roller!  We have had marbles that have been rolled so vigorously they jumped out of the box and rolled across the floor.  Even if this happens it only leaves a thin line of paint to wipe up.  I always have the children do marble painting in the kitchen to reduce the possibility of a real paint mess.

Happy painting and I hope you don’t lose your marbles!