One of my favorite projects with preschool aged kids is gravity painting. There is something so rewarding about watching paint drip. The kids alway have such a great time with this one! This project is very easy to set up and can be done easily at home. Keep in mind that it has the potential to be quite messy though so if you are worried about a mess you may want to try this one outside!
You will need:
- Small jars
- Eye droppers or pipettes
- Washable paints, I prefer liquid watercolors though tempera paint works well too.
- Water to dilute paint.
- Paper to paint on. I like to use a watercolor paper or at least a 90# paper for durability.
- Drop cloth for floor or table if painting inside.
- Some sort of easel or wall that you can attach your paper to.
- Prepare your space by covering the floor and or table where you will be painting.
- Attach your paper to an easel or wall. Be sure that it is at the correct height for your child. They should be able to comfortably reach the top of the paper.
- Prepare your paints by mixing with water. Paints should be thin enough to be collected in the dropper and to drip. I like a fairly watery consistency for this project. Just make sure that you have enough paint to give a rich color.
- Place one dropper or pipette into each color.
A note on paints: For this project select 2-4 colors of paint to work with. Be sure to keep your paint colors in the same color family in order to avoid brown drips…unless brown is what you are after! Warm colors: reds, oranges, yellows work well together as do cool colors: blues, greens, purples…
For this project I love to tell the kids that we are going to be painting rain! So I tend to choose dark blues, purples, and turquoise colors to paint with.
- Invite the child to paint. As I said before, I love to tell the kids that we will be painting rain. This is a fun way to relate this project to their life experience a bit.
- Show the child how to squeeze the dropper or pipette in the paint to collect the paint. I like to really slow this down and exaggerate my movements. Ex: Say, “Squeeze” and very slowly squeeze the dropper in an exaggerated way.
- Then say “Let go,” and while the dropper is in the jar completely remove you hand from the dropper, showing the child your empty hand. This is important for children who do not yet have experience with droppers. Otherwise they tend to continue squeezing as they lift the dropper and the paint comes back out before they get it to the page.
- Next demonstrate lifting the dropper out of the paint. Point out the paint in the dropper to the child. Finally show the child how to hold the dropper at the top of the page again. Say, “Squeeze” allow the paint to drip down the page.
- Hand the dropper to the child and say, “Your turn.” It may take them several tries to collect paint and get it to the paper. That is OK. Unless they are showing signs of frustration allow them to continue exploring it unassisted. If they seem frustrated, repeat the above steps or gently guide their hand as you demonstrate.
Exploration is key here. Allowing the child to fully engage with the tools is the goal. It may take some time for them to master the tools and they might instead try to paint with or draw with the dropper. All of that is ok. They are exploring something new and relating it to their previous life experiences. Most of all have fun with this project. If the child loses interest, don’t force it. Perhaps try again later. I have noticed that some children respond better to a project the second or third time it is introduced. So don’t worry if your child is not interested, simply try again at a later time!
This project is a great exploration for older toddlers and preschoolers, but it can also be extended for older children. I have done this project with kids up to 12 years old with great results. For older children try having the child paint a landscape or an umbrella type rain scene on their page first. Then you can have them add the rain to finish it off. Kids of all ages enjoy watching the paint drip!
I hope you have a blast with this project! I would love to hear your experiences with it. Feel free to leave a comment.