Paper marbling is quite an art and beautiful to watch. I luckily had the chance to admire an artist in Florence, Italy. He took the time to show me how it was done with ink dropped on top of water and certain chemicals helping it float on top so when the paper was delicately laid on it picked up the colors. Now of course when I saw a similar art project that I could make right at home with children, I was very excited! I tried it out at nap time and was surprised with the great success. You wouldn’t believe how long the preschoolers stayed engaged… wait for it…. one and a half hours! Are you intrigued yet!?!

Materials Needs:

  • shaving cream
  • baking sheet with rim (one per a child)
  • food coloring (remember it’s not washable) or water color paint
  • droppers
  • mini muffin tin or small, shallow cups that won’t tip
  • rubber spatula
  • stick: toothpick, popsicle stick, or kabob skewer
  • cardstock paper
  • old credit card or hotel card

spread color in shaving cream

Paper Marbling Directions:

1. Make sure your child has a short sleeve art shirt on or a smock covering them up; this can get messy.

2. Prep the colors before the children come because they will be excited and want to start right away! Squeeze three drops of color into each mini muffin well, then add fifteen drops of water to dilute it.

3. Let your child spray the shaving cream all over their baking sheet. Help them spread it evenly over the sheet with a rubber spatula; keep it half an inch to an inch thick. If the kids just want to dig their hands into the shaving cream, let them know they can have time for that at the end.

4. Now let the kids use the droppers to make polka dots all over the shaving cream; you want a lot so let them go wild. If it’s their first time, teach them how to use a dropper.

5. Next when your child feels content and proud with their drops of color, offer them a stick to swirl the colors in any way they please.

6. While they are doing that, get a piece of paper out. Place the paper down lightly on top of the color swirls and help your child pat it down gently and evenly.

7. Now it’s time to pull the paper off and see the magic happen. At first it is just going to look like a big mess, but get that credit card out to use as a squeegee and you’ll find your art underneath! Scrape the shaving cream off of the paper; wipe the credit card clean as needed. Do you see your beautiful paper marbling now?

8. We used our shaving cream twice and it worked just as perfectly as the first time. It’s possible you could use it three times if you want to try. Just evenly spread it out again with the rubber spatula before beginning. Wash the tray off right in the sink when you want to start over.

9. You’ll notice when your paper dries it folds up on the edges a bit. Wait until your art is fully dry; then just role it into a tube, going the opposite way. It will flatten out right away. These make beautiful, homemade cards or framed art.

10. Don’t forget to let your kids play in the shaving cream at the end of the paper marbling activity. This is when it gets the messiest. Just tell your kids, “Hands in the air when you’re done,” and get them right to a sink. Have fun!

This makes a great at-home art project to try over the holiday break or to include in between remote learning science and math class. Enjoy and don’t be afraid to let your kids get messy. Check out more activities to do at home with your kids here

paper marbling for kids

About The Author

Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.

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