How to make messy play pendulum sugar galaxies

Feature writer Kath shares her messy play pendulum sugar galaxy activity with us. Deliberately make a mess for fun!


Sometimes my kids spill stuff, usually about two seconds after I have said “don’t do that you’ll spill it”. Cleaning up is what parenting is about (I had thought it was about moulding a child into a happy adult, but no, its actually about cleaning up). I thought why not deliberately spill, what would happen? So I came up with this fun activity.

You will need:

  • A large piece of dark coloured paper
  • A smaller piece of paper
  • String
  • Caster sugar or sand (or a similar fine grained substance)

How to spin the galaxy

How to spin a galaxy for kids

  1. Firstly form the smaller piece of paper into a cone with the smallest hole you can manage (if you make it too small for the sugar to flow you can always cut it bigger, but you can’t make it smaller).
  2. Attach the cone point down to some string and attach the other end of the string to something that will allow it to swing freely (a drawing pin in a door frame, an overhanging tree branch or anything else that you can find in your house).
  3. Place the dark coloured paper underneath the cone with the cone roughly hanging over the centre of the card. You can experiment with how different lengths of string give different effects, so there is no ideal distance above the card the cone should hang.
  4. With your finger over the small hole in the cone fill with a small amount of sugar (I found 50g was more than enough).
  5. Pull the cone toward one corner of the card, start the flow of sugar and release.

To create more intricate pictures catch the cone and send it off in another direction.

My kids just liked swinging the pendulum and then putting the sugar back in the cone to start again, but if you want to make a picture to keep you will need to cover the coloured paper in glue (use a spray glue or you’ll be there forever!). Once you are happy with the picture leave it until you are certain the glue has dried before pouring away the excess sugar.

For more information on this author see Kath’s profile here +Kath B

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