Explore Together (indoors): Food Coloring Mix

  • cell phone or camera (optional)
  • eyedroppers/pipettes (one for each child)
  • food coloring (red, blue, yellow)
  • ice cube trays (white; one for each child)
  • paint squares (various shades colors)
  • plastic bottles filled with clear water

  • change
  • color
  • darkest
  • lighter
  • mix
  • paint
  • shade

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): Food Coloring Mix

© 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); Two or more colors can be combined to make a new color

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

Educator Prep: Put each color of food coloring in a different bottle of water and stir/shake to mix.

Build on children’s exploration with blue colored water from Week One by having children continue to explore mixing two different colors of water.

Provide children with an ice cube tray and an eyedropper. Hold up two bottles of different colored water. Say, I am going to put (blue) on one end of the tray, and (yellow) on the other end of the tray. Ask questions such as,

  • What new color do you think you will make by mixing these two colors? Why do you think that? Encourage children to make connections to the paint mixing activity from the previous day. 

Have children explore mixing the colored water on their own. Encourage them to turn and talk to a buddy as they observe or learn something new about mixing colors.  As children explore, display paint squares and ask children to match the colors in their trays to a paint square. Engage children as they explore by acknowledging their observations and asking questions such as,

  • How did you get that purple color? Is that what you thought would happen when you mixed those two colors?
  • How did you make that color? How much (yellow) did you use to make that shade?
  • What do you think will happen if you add a lot of red to that color? Why do you think that?
  • What would you name that shade of orange? Why would you give it that name?

You may want to have children take pictures of their observations with a cell phone or camera. Encourage them to take photos of their ice cube trays filled with different shades and colors.

Reflect and Share Together
Have children share their color mixing observations. Have one or more of the ice cube trays with the mixed-color water available so children can use it to demonstrate how a particular color changed as they added another color to it. Guide discussion by asking questions such as,

  • How did you make the darkest shades of orange in your tray? How did you make the lighter shades?
  • What do you think would happen if you added more yellow to your color? What if you added a different color to it?

Educator Tip: Keep the clear water in a separate cup so you can provide direct instruction on how to clean the pipette in between using different colors.

Adaptation:  If you have children of varying ages in your group, you may wish to let older children place drops of two different colors of food coloring on paper towels or coffee filters and note what happens in areas where the colors mix.

Adaptation: If you have children of varying ages in your group, you may want to have more advanced/older children add a third color or continue with mixing two different colors.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Email this page