My kids and I had a lot of fun doing this basic color theory activity recently. Before starting the activity, I was unsure how they would react. Although I personally had never discussed with them how primary colors combine to create secondary color, I was wondering whether they might have picked up some of this information along the way from other teachers or books. It turned out that color mixing and color theory was completely new to them though. This made the activity really fun for us all since they were so amazed with the results.
Note: For more activities that teach colors, see my Teaching Colors to Kids page.
To do this activity, I prepared the following:
- 6 white cups
- Red, yellow, and blue liquid watercolors (we purchased ours from Discount School Supply, but you can also find them on Amazon)
- Plastic pipettes
I placed the six cups in a circle. Going around the circle, I filled one cup with red liquid watercolor, one cup with yellow liquid watercolor, and one cup with blue liquid watercolor. Note that red, yellow, and blue are called “primary” colors. In between each of the three cups with primary colors, I left a blank cup.
When the kids came to the table, I told them we were going to mix the colors together. I asked them to predict what color we would make if we mixed the red and yellow together.
After they made their predictions, I then gave them a plastic pipette to drip some red into the empty cup.
Then they added yellow to the same cup, and were surprised to find that they had made orange! We had our first “secondary” color – a secondary color being one that is created by mixing two primary colors.
Next, they mixed yellow and blue to make green. What a surprise!
Then, they mixed red and blue to make purple. Oohs and aahs all around. 🙂
In the end, we had made a whole rainbow of colors just by using the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue!
The kids were really curious what would happen if they were to mix all six colors together. So I grabbed another container to let them try it out. We learned that mixing all these colors together makes brown!
Very simple, but also a very fun introduction to color theory for my two preschoolers.
More resources for teaching colors
More posts about colors from Gift of Curiosity:
- Teaching colors through play
- Rainbow do-a-dot printable
- Color matching with household objects
- No mess color mixing fun
- Ideas for teaching colors
- Color mixing rainbow challenge
- Color mixing science