Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Color Lab

Today was an Art Day! Thanks to a recommendation from the Teaching My Baby to Read blog I bought 123 I Can Paint! on It has 6 painting activities to teach kids simple color concepts and painting techniques. The first activity is "Mix It Up" that makes an ocean scene and teaches mixing red, yellow, and blue to make orange, green, and purple.

Here's how they turned out:

Builder Boy's Ocean Painting
Early Bird's Painting (updated with orange fish)

My Picture (the yellow and the red were suppose to blend with the blue)

Builder Boy already knows what primary colors mix to make what secondary colors, but he had fun doing it anyway. Early Bird knows his main colors, but this was the first time talking about mixing some colors to make others. So while we were waiting for the paint to dry we did "Color Lab" which is something I had done with Builder Boy before, but it had been a while.

I put water in some small glass jars and put food coloring drops in each, making red, yellow, and blue water. Then I gave the kids larger jars for them to combine the "starting colors" in. Builder Boy knows they are called "primary colors," but so Early Bird could understand I also called them the "starting colors." That came in handy when he tried to mix different colors to "make yellow." It also helped having the primary/starting colors in the small jars and having them pour into the larger jars so that the secondary/mixed colors were "bigger." After we covered all the color combinations I let them play and mix with new water for a while. Early Bird was very excited about making brown, and he kept trying to add yellow to orange to make it.

Once we had cleaned up I put on the Blue's Clues episode about mixing colors (Season 5, Episode 2.) Builder Boy already had all the colors on it memorized, but it was still good review for him. Early Bird had watched it before, but I don't think he understood the mixing concept until today. The Blue's Clues episode also goes over the tertiary colors. It calls red-orange vermilion, yellow-orange marigold, yellow-green chartreuse (which was Builder Boy's favorite color for a long time after seeing that episode for the first time, and don't you mistake it for green!) blue-green aqua-marine, blue-purple violet, and red-purple magenta. However you can't really make them with colored water, as the distinction really isn't there.

Added later: Another way to mix primary colors into secondary colors: Koolaid ice cubes in Sprite! 
_________________________________________________________________________________ Be aware that this is a thin book, only 6 lessons and 22 pages. I didn't pay attention so I was surprised when it arrived in the mail, but I still think it's worth the $5.95 (if it's part of a free-shipping order.)

For older children, Jenny over at Teaching My Baby to Read did an awesome color Osmosis Experiment that can also be used to teach mixing colors.


  1. Whoa! I can't wait to share this with Bruce when he gets home from school. He's going to love to see what your kids did with this project. We've done every lesson now except for the mural.

  2. I loved your color Osmosis Experiment, but I thought my kids were too young to just sit and watch rather than doing. There is another color mixing project I found on the Watch Me Play and Learn blog that I'm going to try, maybe this weekend, that has kids "painting" with colored ice.


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