Color is one of my favorite topics to focus on when teaching little people. Everyone can relate to color! If identifying primary colors is an obvious place to start then mixing secondary colors is an obvious next step! What are secondary colors and how to make them is a lesson suitable for any age!
What are secondary colors….
Secondary colors occur when any two primary colors are mixed together. Mix red and yellow to get orange, red and blue to get purple, and red and yellow to get orange. Orange, purple, and green are known as the secondary colors. Check out this free printable color wheel for kids to get a great visual for how primary and secondary colors relate to one another!
Look teacher, I made…brown….
Sometimes mixing secondary colors is easier said than done. Putting the three primary colors on a plate and stirring tends not to result in three beautiful secondary colors but in a muddy mess. Is this bad? Not necessarily. Offering experiments with color is a great idea for little people whether the result is purple or brown, or hot pink.
But, sometimes it’s a good idea to provide fewer choices so kids have a better chance of being successful at seeing two colors, and only two colors, mix into a brand spanking new secondary color!
What’s with the tape….
Could you do this color mixing exercise without painter’s tape? Absolutely. So why tape?
I like incorporating tape for a couple of reasons. One- it provides some structure to an otherwise free form paint mixing exercise. I instructed students to divide their paper up into as many different spaces as they could using the tape. Some did this while some kids went their own direction and tried to create a composition with a recognizable subject. It works either way.
The other reason I like this tape is because it’s an excellent fine motor skill exercise. I gave out 6-8 inch strips of wide painter’s tape, the blue kind. Kids stuck the end of it to their table and used fingers to rip it any which way they desired.
Secondary colors, voila….
For this project we used washable tempera paint. This is my favorite! It’s inexpensive and lasts forever.
Kids will choose two primary colors. If they’ve had other experiences with color mixing (color mixing on coffee filters or color theory for kids) they will be able to anticipate the result of their chosen colors.
Encourage them to paint a little of each primary color. I like to provide colors on a paper plate with plenty of room for mixing. Demonstrate starting with the lighter color (let’s say yellow) and adding a dab of the darker color (blue or red.) Any of the colors can be mixed in this manner, adding a little color at a time as opposed to stirring the whole plate!
We also added in white to get some different tints. Check out this kid friendly printable about the element of value!
Removing the tape…
One thing I learned is do not use cheap copy weight paper for this exercise unless you are content with the blue tape becoming part of the composition. (Which actually looked really great in some cases.)
The idea is that the tape comes off revealing a bold white design amidst the awesome secondary colors your kids mixed. This works much, much better if you start on heavy, quality paper, even tag board. Less ripping, less frustration. Ask me how I know!
Want to take this from a quick exercise in secondary color mixing to a complete lesson…..
There are so many great kid’s books that really bring the element of color to life! Check out this great booklist of books to help teach all the elements of art. Children’s books are on of my absolute favorite ways to introduce a concept to kids! So easy!