I have always loved bright colors. Reds, corals, yellows, purples. . . bright colors cheer me up!
Maybe that is why I have always loved color mixing activities so much. The opportunity to play with beautiful, bright colors and mix them to create new colors still gives me such delight even as a grown up.
This activity involves color mixing with colored ice cubes. The activity needs to be done over two days so you have time to freeze the ice cubes, but all in all the activity is fairly simple and is a wonderful way to illustrate how the three primary colors of magenta (red), cyan (blue), and yellow mix to make orange, green, and purple.
Note: For more activities that teach colors, see my Teaching Colors to Kids page.
For this color mixing with colored ice cubes activity, you will need the following materials:
- 9 paper cups
- Optional: Tray to hold the 9 paper cups
- Cup to hold the water
- 4 small, clear or white containers
- Magenta (red), cyan (blue), and yellow liquid watercolor paints
- Optional: Paper and markers to label your colors
The first step was to put nine cups into our tray and fill them about half way with water.
Next, we added a few drops each of magenta (red), cyan (blue), and yellow liquid watercolors to the cups to make three ice cubes of each color.
Once our cups were ready, we placed them into the freezer overnight.
The next day we took the cups out of the freezer and peeled the paper off the colored ice cubes.
We put the colored ice cubes into four small plastic containers.
Here are the color combinations we put into each container:
- 1 magenta (red), 1 cyan (blue), and 1 yellow
- 1 magenta (red) and 1 cyan (blue)
- 1 cyan (blue) and 1 yellow
- 1 magenta (red) and 1 yellow
Then we set the containers out to allow the ice to melt.
In the meantime, I asked my daughter to make a guess about what color would result from each of the color combinations, and I wrote her guesses down on sticky notes.
We continued to check on our colored ice a few times over the next hour or so as the ice melted. We could see that the colors were starting to mix a bit inside the containers.
(Ignore the leftmost sticky note – her guess about the color that would result from mixing the three primary colors together changed a couple of times between when we first started and when we finished.)
We ended up giving the containers a small shake to help the colors mix together more quickly. After giving the containers a gentle shake, the new color emerged quite clearly.
Since there was still colored ice that had not yet melted, it was easy for my daughter to see that the cyan (blue) and yellow ice made green, for example.
More resources for teaching colors
More color mixing posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Fun with color mixing
- Color mixing science with liquid watercolors
- Color theory for preschoolers
- Color mixing rainbow challenge
- No mess color mixing fun
- Make your own markers: A practical lesson in color mixing