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15 Simple Colour Mixing Activities for Preschoolers

Here are 15 fun colour-mixing activities and experiments to teach your children about primary, secondary, and even tertiary colours. 

They will experiment and practise science thinking skills such as cause and effect, making predictions and comparing while they observe the results. 

Kids will also gain practice with maths concepts such as more or less, while working with shading and tinting for different tones.

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!

Coloured paint pots and brushes on paper.

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.

Three glasses with water stained by food colouring in the primary colours.

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.

7. Playdough

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. 

Child playing with large blob of playdough

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.

10. Crayons

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. 

Melting crayons in a mold

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. 

Child holding up large colorful autumn leaves

Using spoons or small trowels, they smash and mix the materials to observe the different colours and tones they can achieve.

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. You could also watch the read-alouds below. 

Mixed by Arree Chung

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni

Blue vs. Yellow by Tom Sullivan

Mix it Up by Herve Tullet

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!

Paint pot son top of a painted sheet of paper. Text reads "15 simple colour mixing activities for preschoolers".

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