How to Paint Styrofoam Balls to Look Like the Earth

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper

  • Styrofoam ball

  • Brush-on acrylic sealer

  • Large paintbrush

  • Glass plate

  • Bowl of water

  • Blue acrylic paint

  • Green acrylic paint

  • Tan acrylic paint

  • White acrylic paint

  • Medium paintbrush

  • Small detail brushes

Acrylic paint is useful for simulating earth's colors and textures.

Creating a replica of the earth on a Styrofoam ball is a creative and interactive way for kids to learn about earth science and geography. By first coating the Styrofoam ball with an acrylic sealer, you will save a lot of time when applying coats of acrylic paint. The acrylic sealer also acts as a bonding agent that reinforces the structure of the Styrofoam and keeps it from chipping. This is an especially enjoyable craft for young children with an interest in science.


Step 1

Layer newspaper sheets on a flat work surface and place the Styrofoam ball on top of them.

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Step 2

Apply a coat of acrylic sealer to the surface of the Styrofoam ball with a large paintbrush. Begin with the top half of the ball, then let it dry before moving on to the second half. Allow the coats of acrylic sealer to dry for approximately 20 minutes. Two coats of acrylic sealer will suffice.

Step 3

Place a small amount of blue acrylic paint on a glass plate. Use a medium paintbrush to apply the blue paint to the surface of the Styrofoam ball, beginning with the top half. Allow the paint to dry for 10 minutes before painting the bottom half of the ball. Once the first coat of paint is dry, apply a second coat.


Step 4

Add the green and tan acrylic paints to the plate. Mix the two colors in varying amounts on the plate and apply the mixture to the Styrofoam ball to create the earth's continents. Combine the two colors frequently as you paint to create texture. Use a medium paintbrush and detail brushes as needed.


Step 5

Use white acrylic paint to create cloud formations. Dilute the white paint with a small amount of water to create a soft, cloudy effect. Use various detail brushes as needed.

Step 6

Apply a coat of acrylic sealer to the painted Styrofoam ball once you've finished painting it. Allow this coat to dry, and then apply a second, final coat.


Refer to a map of the earth or a photograph taken from space for a visual aid. Use fishing line or string and two eye bolts to hang your finished earth model from the ceiling or a window. Create a scale model of the solar system by painting the planets on Styrofoam balls of varying sizes. Sculpt topographical details onto your planetary models using clay or acrylic paint mixed with a matte gel medium.


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