How to do acorn marble painting

An art project for autumn

Community Playthings | October 2022

If Autumn is natures matinée, October is the curtain call. Trees dressed in crimson leaves bow to the thunderous applause of chestnuts and acorns raining down. Walk through the park, and you’ll see children enthusiastically picking through the spoils from this grand ceremony. There is plenty of material here for arts and crafts projects! One of them is painting with acorns.

Instructions with pictures

To paint with acorns, you need:

  • A shoebox
  • Paper (to match the size of the box)
  • Small jug of water
  • Three washable cups
  • Spoons
  • Poster paints
  • Acorns

Materials needed for painting with acorns

Find a table at a suitable height for children, with a cleanable surface. Put a spoonful of paint into each jar and dilute with water. Stir well. Now add a few acorns to each jar and stir until the acorns are fully covered with paint.

A child stirs acorns into diluted paint

Now place the paper in the shoebox. Cut your paper to the approximate size of your shoebox footprint to prevent slipping. It is better to use a smaller box and cut the paper to size than to fix the paper with tape, although this is also an option. Now choose the first colour and spoon out some or all of the coloured acorns into the box.

Cardboard box with paper, acorns with paint are added

Now comes the actual painting, which even very young children can do independently. Tilt and shake the cardboard so that the acorns roll over the paper inside. Then release the acorns from the box back into the jar. Repeat this process with all the colours.

Child rolls acorns with blue paint into a box

Child rolling orange acorns over paper in a box

Now remove the finished picture from the box. (The advantage of not using tape!) Hang it up to dry or place on a drying rack.

The shoebox provides a beautiful result without the painty fingers, but do include finger painting as a next step if that's too much of a temptation.

Four acorn paintings, nicely arranged on a wall behind a lamp and a potted plant.

Depending on the age of the child, you can scale this project by increasing the shoebox size, the number of paints, or add a nice border. Consider using a shoebox with a closed lid to make a nice surprise. Five- to six-year-olds may be able to do almost everything on their own, with nothing more than a little encouragement.

Be aware that acorns can be swallowed by children under the age of three and pose a choking hazard. Conkers may be a better option for your youngest artists.

Projects & Activities
3–5 Years, Primary School
Professional development