Mixing colors is one of my preschooler’s favorite things to do. It’s messy, he gets to play with water, and it’s fun to see what colors he can make! However, it’s not just for preschoolers. Older kids love color mixing too, probably for the same reasons! They can explore the concept a little deeper by experimenting with shades of color.
We have done color mixing before and listened to the story Mouse Paint by Ellen Stohl Walsh at our library story time. My son loves this book. In the story you see the white mice hop into different color paints and they begin mixing colors, thus creating new ones. It is a great visual for color mixing. Better yet, our librarian turned this into a felt story. My son still thinks our librarian is magic because because she put a white felt mouse into a small box and he came out red! If you have the time, making this into a felt story would be fantastic. This book illustrates how the three primary colors create three secondary colors.
Kids tend to learn the three basics first:
- Red and yellow make orange
- Blue and yellow make green
- Red and blue make purple
Extending the basics of color mixing, Color Dance by Ann Jonas takes the concept a little deeper. You start with the three dancers holding long scarves- red, yellow, and blue. At first they dance together making orange, green, and purple. After that, you see how they can make various shades of each color- such as marigold, vermilion, aquamarine. A boy comes by holding a white scarf and we see the colors become paler. He brings a gray scarf and the color become dark. And lastly, he dances by with a black scarf and the colors are barely visible. This is what inspired our latest color adventure.
First, I made a big circle with six pieces to make a color wheel. I colored every other spot with a primary color- red, blue, and yellow. We opened up to the first page of the book, Color Dance and matched the color of the dancers with the colors on our wheel. We looked at the page where the red dancer and the yellow dancer made the color orange. My little one saw the orange and noted that red and yellow were the two colors that made orange. He started looking for an orange crayon to add it to our color wheel.
I showed him how we color the orange between the two color that made it- red and yellow. He attempted to do this himself, then asked me to color it in.
We continued using the book to figure out what colors go in our remaining spots. We saw the yellow and blue dancers made green and the blue and red dancers made purple. We added them to our color wheel.
Following along in the book, we learned that white makes colors appear pale. So he grabbed a white crayon and rubbed it over the blue to see what would happen. Next, he tried coloring over the blue with the black crayon since we learned from the story that black seems to block the color. The difference was not that noticeable using crayons!
I hung the color wheel up on the wall and we began some hands on fun of color mixing. We started out very orderly. I added food coloring to three glass measuring bowls of water- red, blue, and yellow. First, he tested the primary colors just as it was in the book. He poured some yellow and blue together, yellow and red together, and some blue and red together. As he did each one we predicted what color would be made by referring to the color wheel we had just completed. He successfully made all three secondary colors.
After that, he had a color mixing and pouring free for all! He kept mixing all kinds of colors together, eventually ending with all the colors mixed together. It resulted in a very dark forest green.
For older kids, they can experiment with the shade of the colors. What happens if you pour more red than yellow? What of if you have more yellow than red? The different amounts of each color affect the shade it creates. They can compare this with the shades shown in the book Color Dance.
Color mixing is so much fun. Your little one can explore science and art together! Happy mixing