Color mixing can be magical! No, better than magic, it’s science!
The process of observing, hypothesizing, and testing repeats itself over and over again the moment you present children with a little colored water and a few eye droppers.
I wrote about this simple approach to color mixing almost four years ago here. That four year-old in the photo is now a much bigger eight year-old *sniff* (though he still enjoys color mixing). His little brother is now almost that same age and had some fun a few days ago as he and his friends did some color mixing of their own.
Rather than using a baking sheet, we used our home-spun sensory table, and mixed the colors in a variety of ice cube trays to create a rainbow of colors. The excitement of discovery never gets old as they exclaimed over and over, “I made another green!” “Look, it’s orange!”
Notice the way they’re holding the eye-droppers. This is a great added bonus! That grasp is very similar to the way their fingers work together to hold a pencil. The extra practice not only makes the grasp more familiar and practiced, but the act of squeezing and releasing strengthens that same fine motor strength and control.
Kids are not just learning about primary and secondary (and tertiary, and quadrary…) colors. In addition to science and sensory objectives and fine motor development, you can add a creative element by using Liquid Watercolors to do your color mixing and then use the new colors to paint a watercolor scene.
Of course there’s always room for a good book to bring in language and literacy. Color mixing always goes well with a great book like one of these:
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stohl Walsh
White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker
What’s your favorite color mixing activity?
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I love the idea of using ice cube trays! It really allows kids to experiment and observe without it all turning into a yucky puddle of gray/brown! Back when I was teaching, I liked giving the kids their own little blobs of newly-made playdough with no coloring added. They could then add drops of food coloring and mix the color into the dough by kneading it (great hand/wrist/arm muscle work!). (We also did this with sugar cookie dough and made layers of each color, then sliced it so we had rainbow cookies!) The benefit of mixing colors into the dough is that the change is slow – quite a different way to observe the mixing of colors than in liquid. By the way, I LOVE the two books you mentioned – a couple of the kids’ favorites!!
What a fabulous idea to use ice-cube trays for colour mixing. I can just imagine the fun they had!
Suchada @ Mama Eve says
Oh, I can’t wait to try this! It looks like a totally do-able activity with my toddler and preschooler, even when I’m a month away from giving birth! Thanks for the idea and lovely pictures 🙂
Hello, Amanda, I’m a science education student from Lansing Community College. My question for you is what is the benefits for the parent and children in this research of mixing colors. Thank you.
Hi! The benefits are many– both in knowledge and in procedure. This guest post might help you see what I mean: http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2013/08/science-is-everywhere.html
Best of luck with your studies!