Explore Together (indoors): Mixing Paint Colors

  • "Colors" chart (from Week 1)
  • paint, (tempera; (black, blue, red, yellow, white)
  • paper plates
  • paper towels
  • water
  • color
  • darker
  • lighter
  • mix
  • paint
  • shade

MA Standards:

Speaking and Listening/SL.PK.MA.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners during daily routines and play.
Language/L.PK.MA.1: Demonstrate use of oral language in informal everyday activities.
Language/L.PK.MA.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, listening to books read aloud, activities, and play.

Head Start Outcomes:

Logic and Reasoning/Reasoning and Problem Solving: Recognizes cause and effect relationships.
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: Collects, describes, and records information through discussions, drawings, maps, and charts.

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.

Explore Together (indoors): Mixing Paint Colors

© 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 color; Black paint mixed with a color makes a darker shade of the color; Two or more colors can be combined to make a new color

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

Educator Prep: Set up stations for each pair of children: jars of different colored paint, paint brushes, paper plates, water.

Display the materials for children to see. Tell children they will work with a buddy to explore creating new colors by mixing two colors of paint together. 

Review how to mix paints by dabbing a blob of colored paint and white paint onto a paper plate. Ask a volunteer to mix a lighter shade of the color.

  • Demonstrate for children how to wipe the brush or dip it in water before putting it into another pot of paint. Explain that they need to clean the paint off the brush so it doesn't get into the next color jar.

Ask children to turn to their buddy and discuss what they think will happen when they mix two different colors. Record children's predictions on the "Colors" chart and return to them after the activity. Then ask have pairs begin to explore mixing the colors. Encourage children to take turns applying and mixing the paints. 

Observe and listen as children explore and ask questions to prompt them to think about what they are observing or to help them further their thinking. For example, ask,

  • How did you make two shades of green with the same two colors?
  • What did you do to make the green darker? 
  • What happened when you mixed red and yellow? Can you show me how you mixed that color?
  • I see Juanita and Paul mixed red and yellow, too. Did they make the same color? Why do you think their color is different than your color?

Reflect and Share Together
Revisit the predictions children made before mixing colors and discuss children's observations. Have examples of children’s work on hand as they talk about what they learned while mixing colors.

  • How is mixing colors different from mixing white or black into a color?
  • Add any new ideas children have to the “Colors” chart under the subhead “Mixing Colors.”

Take It Further: Encourage children to share a “formula” for making a favorite color. Children may want to try mixing colors to match a favorite color created by a friend.

Educator Tip: This is a good opportunity to model making up names for the colors you mix and inviting children to do the same. For example, if they are mixing red and yellow, the colors that result may look like “pumpkin-orange,” “orangey-orange,” or “reddish orange.” It’s ideal if the color vocabulary grows out of children’s own observations—for example, I mixed blue with a little red and now I have purple-y blue. As children engage in these diverse color explorations, their knowledge and use of color words will become increasingly rich.

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