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Patterns of Motion & Friction Activity for Kids

Pendulum Painting DIY

  • Duration: 30-60 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Cost: $0 to $10

Build a paint pendulum and study its pattern of motion!

Material List

  • 3Empty glue bottles
  • 1Hole puncher
  • 13 foot piece of string or yarn
  • 1Pair of scissors
  • 3Tubes of water-soluble paint (different colors)
  • 1Large sheet of paper
  • 1Tripod or easel with a hook on the bottom
  • Tip:This can be messy! Lay down old newspaper and wear old clothes.


  • 1Cover your work area with old newspaper.
  • 2Cut off the base of the glue bottle using scissors (adult help required).
  • 3Use the hole puncher to make two holes near the bottom of the bottle.
  • 4Feed the string through the two holes in the glue bottle.
  • 5Tie the string so that the bottle hangs upside-down about 2 inches above the floor.
  • 6Place a sheet of paper under the tripod and pour paint into the glue bottle.
  • 7Hang the paint-filled bottle back on the tripod.
  • 8Carefully open the glue bottle tip and give it a gentle swing.
  • Tip:Most paints are thick and need to be mixed with an equal part of water to flow easily.

How It Works

When the bottle is pulled back and released, it swings. The paint in the bottle flows out continuously leaving a record of its path. By observing the pattern made by the paint, you can see how the swinging pendulum changes direction and how it slows down over time due to friction! You can make different patterns by swinging it harder or softer, swinging it in a different direction, or changing the length of the string!

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