Rainbow milk marbled paper art is such a cool kids craft activity and it is great as it really is science meets art. It is a classic kid’s science activity rainbow milk fireworks with the added process art activity of marbling paper.
We used almond milk for our rainbow milk marbled paper purely due to the fact that we wanted to keep the paper and cows milk when it goes off has a funky smell (well my nose thinks it does)! However, you can use any form of milk, including nut milks, soya milk, oat milk, goats milk and good old cows milk.
Rainbow Milk Marbled Paper Art
- Liquid watercolours or liquid food colouring
- Large tray
- Watercolour paper
- Washing up liquid (Dishwashing soap)
- Cotton buds (Q Tips)
How to Make Rainbow Milk Marbled Paper Art
I have done this Milk Fireworks activity with the boys a number of times, but never with the extension activity of marbling the paper. This time at 10 and 11 they really understood the science behind the activity and rather than it just being a fun activity it reinforced learning.
Firstly tip some milk into your tray – just enough to cover the bottom.
Then add your liquid watercolours or liquid food colouring.
Dip your cotton bud in the washing up liquid and touch the coloured milk with it, watch the colours start to expand and swirl. This is the firework part!
Now for the science bit!
One end of a detergent molecule attracts water (hydrophilic) while the other side disperses water and attracts oil and fat (hydrophobic). This means that washing up liquid and detergent can get dishes and clothes clean because the hydrophobic end of the molecule picks up the grease, oil, and dirt, while the hydrophilic end dissolves in water and washes all the dirty stuff away with it.
Milk contains water and fat, so when you add washing up liquid to milk, two things happen. Firstly it lowers the surface tension of the milk (making it easier for the food colouring to flow around) and secondly, the hydrophilic part of the detergent molecule dissolves in the milk, whilst the hydrophobic part is attracted to the milk fat.
By adding the food colouring to the milk we get to see the race for the hydrophobic part of the washing up liquid to pair up with the fat globules in the milk, pushing aside everything else.
Once you’ve swirled to your liking, you can preserve your design by transferring it onto some paper. Stick a piece of watercolour paper on top and press down very gently. Lift and quickly turn over and allow to dry.
We love how each of the prints turned out differently.
They are so beautiful and unique and a great way to remember our fun science and art activity.
Hi, when do you add the washing up liquid and how much do you use? Thank you for showing this fun activity.
You dip your cotton bud in the washing up liquid and only need a tiny amount
A nice bright cheery art for us to do with some left over milk!
The mention of the word rainbow would perk my child’s ears up in an instant!
I actually learned something today – the science part was so interesting! I agree about the cow’s milk, the thought of having dried cow milk hanging on my wall isn’t so appealing!
That is really pretty, going to give that a go!
That looks like a great activity! Thank you so much for sharing:)
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