Explore Together (indoors): More Shades of Paint

  • craft sticks
  • paint (white, black, yellow)
  • paintbrushes
  • paper
  • paper plates (white; 4 for each child)
  • color
  • dark
  • darker
  • darkest
  • light
  • lighter
  • mix
  • paint
  • shade

Head Start Outcomes:

Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Uses senses and tools, including technology, to gather information, investigate materials, and observe processes and relationships.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Observes and discusses common properties, differences, and comparisons among objects.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Participates in simple investigations to form hypotheses, gather observations, draw conclusions, and form generalizations.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Collects, describes, and records information through discussions, drawings, maps, and charts.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Describes and discusses predictions, explanations, and generalizations based on past experience.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

Science and Technology/Inquiry Skills 3: Identify and use simple tools appropriately to extend observations.
English Language Arts/Language 2: Participate actively in discussions, listen to the ideas of others, and ask and answer relevant questions.
Science and Technology/Inquiry Skills 4: Record observations and share ideas through simple forms of representation such as drawings.

Explore Together (indoors): More Shades of Paint

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

STEM Key Concepts: There are many different colors; A color can have many different shades (from very light to very dark); White paint mixed with a color makes a lighter shade of the same color; Black paint mixed with a color makes a darker shade of the same color

ELA Focus Skills: Follow Directions, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary

Tell children that today they will work in pairs to explore mixing paint to make lighter and darker shades of yellow. Review children's observations from earlier in the week when they mixed white and red paint. Ask questions such as,

  • What happened to the red paint when you added a little/lot of white paint?
  • What did you do to make the darkest shade of red?

On two plates put a blob of yellow. Add a tiny bit of white to one plate and have a volunteer mix the paints. Do the same with black paint—making darker shades. Encourage children to ask questions and share ideas as the volunteers are mixing.

  • Then give each pair two plates and have children take turns putting blobs of yellow and white on each of their plates.
  • Have children take turns adding paint and mixing shades of yellow. Encourage buddies to talk about their observations as they explore. Model questioning, such as, I wonder what will happen if we add more white to that light yellow? How do you think Jessie got that dark yellow shade?

Circulate as children freely explore. You may want to record children's observations with a camera or video. Encourage children to describe and compare the colors they create. Point to various examples and ask,

  • How is that shade of yellow different from this shade? How is it the same?
  • How did you make that shade so light?
  • How did you make that shade? Could make the same shade again?

Use the remaining two plates for mixing yellow and black. Allow children to explore mixing the paint. Help children document their discoveries by painting patches of several different shades they created on a sheet of scrap paper.

Reflect and Share Together
Display and compare children’s color patches and talk about their observations. Ask questions, such as,

  • How did you make this shade of yellow?
  • If you want to make this a darker shade of yellow, what would you do? 
  • Share any photos or videos you took during the exploration time.

Adaptation: Adapt the materials and procedures if younger children will be working in a group. You might prefer to have each young child do the activity individually, with one-to-one supervision.

Adaptation: If younger children have trouble mixing in just a little bit of the white or black, work one-on-one, holding their hands and helping them add a bit at a time.

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