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In the last year or two I have done several activities to teach my kids about color theory. (See one of those activities here.)
My kids now have a pretty good understanding of color theory basics. They know that the primary colors are magenta, yellow, and cyan (which are more conventionally known as red, yellow, and blue). They know that mixing red and yellow makes orange, mixing yellow and blue makes green, and mixing red and blue makes purple.
So with that background knowledge, I issued them this color mixing rainbow challenge to see if they could put their color theory knowledge to practical use.
Note: For more activities that teach colors, see my Teaching Colors to Kids page.
I prepared the color mixing rainbow challenge by setting out the following materials:
- Red, yellow, and blue liquid watercolor paints
- Watercolor paper
- An assortment of regular paint brushes and sponge paint brushes
- Trays to contain the mess
I invited my kids to the table and issued the challenge: Paint a rainbow using only the three paint colors provided.
At first they were stumped about how to go about painting a rainbow with just three colors. But with a bit of support from me, they realized what they needed to do, and then they got to work.
This is XGirl’s final painting. You can see areas where she overlapped the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) to create the secondary colors (orange, green, purple).
Although she experienced moments of frustration getting her painting to come out the way she wanted, by the end of the activity she felt pretty proud of her accomplishment. We decided to hang these paintings up to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but of course you can paint rainbows any time of the year.