Inspired by the incredible Teacher Tom, pendulum painting is one of my favorite activities to do with my students. I love watching them explore movement and make connections from the random designs that emerge, and I am always lovingly surprised by how well children work in groups at the pendulum:) They have to work together for the activity to work — one student needs to hold his finger over the bottom paint canister so the paint doesn’t drip out before you can swing it, one student needs to pour the paint into the canister, and the other one gets to swing it (I didn’t enforce these roles on them — they were created by the students).
I made the pendulum out of PVC pipes I picked up at Home Depot (5 pieces of 2-feet pipes, 4 pieces of 1-foot pipes, 6 elbow brackets, and 2 T brackets). The store will even cut the pipe for you if you also live in a small apartment with little room for miter saws… I have a set of clear condiment bottles like these that are always helpful in the classroom. I used an exacto knife to cut the bottom off of one, hole-punched a hole in either side, and then clipped on binder rings (to make it easier to take off for cleaning without taking the string down). The paint needs to be pretty watered down for it to work well (about 2 parts paint to one part water), and I put it in another condiment bottle to make it easy for the kids to squeeze themselves. All in all, it’s about the best 20 dollars I have ever spent on my classroom, and I’m so inspired every time it comes out. (An added bonus of the PVC pipe is how easy it is to take apart for storage).
Before I took the pendulum out again yesterday, we read Old Black Fly. The book itself is really fun (with a refrain the kids really get into), but the illustrations also look very similar to some of the art work that comes out of our pendulum.