Color mixing is one of the things that can be explored at any age, any intensity, and over and over without getting stale. This quick color mixing exercise can be done with just a couple of supplies that are easy to find at the local dollar store- so you can try it today!
The element of color…
Color is one of the seven elements of art. When I think about the art experiences that add up to a well rounded visual arts education the concepts center around those elements. (Check out this post for a complete list of free resources to help teach the elements of art!)
Color is an element that’s easy to start talking about at a young age because color words are often some of the first words little ones learn. Ideas that seem super simple, like this one, can become more sophisticated as the artist does.
I love art and experiences that can be made without fancy “stuff.” Art can be made from the recycle bin or the office supply drawer. Creativity shouldn’t be confined to a “class.” You and your kiddo can try this little exercise anytime because everything you need is either in your pantry or bathroom or is available for a few bucks at your local dollar store. Easy, right?
You need clear hair gel, sandwich bags, and food coloring. That’s it. Shaving cream can absolutely replace the hair gel in a pinch. You lose the beautiful transparent quality of the hair gel but the color mixing idea still works. Use what you have!
Open your sandwich bag and squirt a few drops of one primary color into one corner. Squeeze a dollop of hair gel into the bottom center of the bag to keep the colors from mixing before you’re ready. Add a second primary color into the remaining corner and seal that baby up.
For a little kid friendly background information on color theory check out this free printable book. It’s a great low prep way to start your kids thinking about color mixing!
Why are we doing this…..
What’s are we gonna’ do with this little baggies? There’s no finished “project” to hang on the fridge when you’re done. This activity is purely done for the “process.” Sometimes kids (and adults) need to be reminded that it’s okay to do things just for fun.
Give kids their baggies with their two primary colors and let them experiment with squishing and sliding the colors around. I did this with a class of littles at our homeschool co-op and the kids literally squealed with delight as their colors touch and swirl together.
Hold the bags up to the window and let the light stream through making even the darkest colors bright and clear. The word of the day is translucent!
What to do with these gems of color when class is over? It’s totally up to you and the setting you’re working in. In our co-op setting I kept the baggies and quietly disposed of them to avoid a food coloring explosion. At home we kept them taped to a window for a while. The kids periodically squished the contents back to the top of the bag.
Not everything needs to last forever. Pour, squish, and enjoy the translucent color mixing.
Combining a short exercise like this one with a book about the element of color is a great way to make it into a lesson. Check out these books about the element of color (and more) to connect art and your child’s world the easy way!
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