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Color Families

What happens when you mix up your paint colors?

  • Directions

    1. Ask students and parents to gather small, non-spill containers for paint mixing, such as mini-muffin tins. Also collect larger containers such as margarine tubs for white paint.
    2. Students will be divided into small groups of about 4 children each. If possible, have an adult available to supervise each group. Measure about a tablespoon of bright paint into a muffin tin. Gather cotton swabs and plastic droppers, enough for each student in the group. Pour white Crayola® Washable Tempera Paint into the larger containers (margarine tubs).
    3. Students put on their Crayola® Art Smocks and cover the work area for their group with recycled newspaper. Distribute student paint (muffin) tins and containers of white paint.
    4. Demonstrate to your group of students how to carefully use cotton swabs and droppers. Ask students if they have any other safety precautions to add when using these tools. Discussion to follow.
    5. Describe to students the paint mixing materials and color values as children begin to experiment with making tints. Begin by asking students to paint a small swatch of color on their white construction paper using a cotton swab. Next, students are to use a plastic dropper to place one drop of white paint into the color. Have students describe what they see happening. Ask students to mix their drop of white paint with their color on the construction paper. What is happening?
    6. Instruct students to use a clean cotton ball to make another color swatch on the white construction paper. Describe what is different about the colors. Add three or four more drops of white paint to the second color swatch and mix. What does the color look like now? Paint a third color swatch on the white construction paper and describe the differences between the all three.
    7. Allow students to continue experimenting with the color and white paint. Once the activity is exhausted, bring students back together as a whole class and discuss their findings. List their comments on a classroom white board or easel paper for easy access.
    8. It's clean up time!
  • Standards

    LA: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

    LA: Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

    LA: Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.

    LA: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade level reading and content.

    LA: Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

    VA: Use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Explore and understand prospective content for works of art.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Bilingual Bright Baby Colors (Spanish Edition) by Roger Priddy; Charley Harper Colors by Charley Harper; Rainbow Fish Colors/Colores (Bilingual) (Spanish and English Edition) by Marcus Pfister

    Challenge students to mix together colors other than white on the construction paper. What happens?

    If students are learning a second language, such as Spanish, invite them to reference their colors in terms of the words from their home language as well as the second language they are learning.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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