Young children love learning about colours.
Doing activities with colour can offer them a sense of accomplishment along with a great deal of fun.
Preschoolers and kindergarteners can progress even further and take part in colour-mixing activities.
What does mixing colours teach kids?
There are many benefits of colour-mixing for preschoolers:
- They learn about primary, secondary, and possibly tertiary colours.
- They experiment and practise science thinking skills such as cause and effect, making predictions and comparing while they observe the results.
- They also gain practice with maths concepts such as more or less, while working with shading and tinting for different tones.
Have fun choosing from the following colour-mixing experiments:
1. Paint and Paper
Introduce blue, red and yellow as the “primary colours.” Use various types of papers and washable paints for colour mixing: tempera, watercolours and fingerpaints.
Kids can explore on their own, or adults could guide them more directly to form certain colours. Use an assortment of tools, such as droppers, brushes, sponges, craft sticks and fingers!
While viewing the resulting colour combinations and results, discuss the concept of “secondary colours,” including green, orange and purple.
If you still have kids’ attention, “tertiary” colours can also be explored, which are made by mixing a secondary with its close primary “cousin.”
For example, make blue/green by mixing blue and green. With kids at the helm, this last step often produces brown, grey and blackish tones, as well.
2. Paint in a Bag
For a less messy version that can be saved at a science table, add two primary colours of finger paint to a large zip-lock bag and tape it shut. Kids can knead and mix to discover the resulting colour.
For display, accompany the bags with signs to show which colours were mixed.
3. Food Colouring – Water
Using the same colour mixing schemes as mentioned for paint, food colouring can be dropped into clear containers of water. This makes a great water science experiment.
4. Food Colouring – Snow
For an outside winter activity, try dropping food colouring mixed with a small amount of water onto the snow to make secondary colours.
5. Food Colouring – Ice
Make ice cubes ahead of time with various food colours added.
They can then be dropped in different combinations into the clear water to dissolve and mix, forming new colours.
The cubes could also be frozen with craft sticks in them for “handles,” to be used for ice cube painting and colour mixing.
6. Shaving Cream
Use primary colours of washable liquid paint or food colouring to tint shaving cream.
Plastic tablecloths work well to protect the tabletops.
Squirt several piles of shaving cream and then drop one colour onto each pile. Children then experiment with combining two primaries to observe the results of shaving cream colour mixing.
Buy or make your own playdough, in primary colours for mixing. White playdough can also be used to experiment with lighter and darker shades of the same colours.
Offer empty plastic containers to label with the names of the newly-made secondary colours.
8. Tissue Paper Designs
Coloured tissue paper makes an interesting material for a mixing activity because of how the colours “bleed” when dampened.
Offer yellow, blue and red paper for the children to cut into large shapes. Place those shapes slightly overlapped onto white paper, for kids to then paint over with a mixture of water and white glue.
Where the colours overlap and spread onto the paper, the secondary colours are then formed.
9. Rainbow Suncatcher
Kids can also make a sun-catcher rainbow for display in the window.
Cut strips of the coloured tissue paper to be attached to white tissue paper with a glue and water mixture.
Hang it in the window after it has dried.
Peel the paper wrappers from crayons and break them into chunks.
Choose which colours to combine in oven muffin pans with silicone liners. Place in the oven to melt at a low temperature. After melting, allow them to cool and then remove them from the liners.
Discuss the resulting colours and use them for creative drawing.
11. Colourful Snacks
Using bowls, plastic spoons and various flavours and colours of yoghurt, children mix to discover the colours that form.
Offer plain or vanilla, as well, to be used for making different tones and shades of colours. Then, they can eat their creations!
12. Paint Chip Samples
Use paint chip sample cards to design a scavenger hunt mixing colours game.
Cut the chips and attach them to white index cards according to primary and secondary colours. For example, one card could show that red + yellow = orange.
The child holding that card looks for small objects in the classroom or at home that match all three of the colours.
When that card is complete, they set it down with the objects and go on to another card and combination of colours.
13. Baking Soda and Vinegar Colour Fizz
Add small amounts of liquid watercolours to individual clear plastic cups.
Add a spoonful of baking soda to each cup. Squirt vinegar (plain or with a little water added) with eye droppers onto the baking soda.
The mixing of colours could take place in the cup before fizzing OR after the fizzing has stopped.
14. Colours of Nature
Children collect a variety of materials outdoors: flowers, leaves, grasses, berries, dirt, sand and water.
Using spoons or small trowels, they smash and mix the materials to observe the different colours and tones they can achieve.
This post contains affiliate links for educational products that I personally recommend. If you purchase through one of them, I earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Read the terms and conditions for more details.
15. Read About It!
Picture books are another great way to explore the concept of colour mixing. Here are some fun books you can find online or at the library.
- Mixed by Arree Chung
SaleMixed: A Colorful Story
- Hardcover Book
- Chung, Arree (Author)
- Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni
SaleLittle Blue and Little Yellow
- Lionni, Leo (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- Blue vs. Yellow by Tom Sullivan
SaleBlue vs. Yellow
- Hardcover Book
- Sullivan, Tom (Author)
- Mix it Up by Herve Tullet
SaleMix It Up!: Board Book Edition (Herve Tullet)
- Mix it Up!
- Tullet, Herve (Author)
- Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Colours are all around us! Look for natural opportunities during each day to point out where different hues are being mixed, such as in foods or beverages, glass and sunsets!
Get FREE access to Printable Puzzles, Stories, Activity Packs and more!
Sign up and you’ll receive a downloadable set of printable puzzles, games and short stories, as well as the Learning Through Play Activity Pack which includes an entire year of activities for 3 to 6-year-olds.
Access is free forever.
Signing up for a free Grow account is fast and easy and will allow you to bookmark articles to read later, on this website as well as many websites worldwide that use Grow.