All day long at home, my 3-year-old asks me what happens when different colors are mixed together. At first I just immediately answered her questions: “Blue and red make purple,” “Yellow and red make orange.” But then I realized that this approach wasn’t giving her opportunities to really explore her interests.
As I explain in this video, the best learning experiences happen when kids are able to pursue their interests while working on their areas of growth. When I started thinking about what my daughter needed to work on, I considered where she’s been struggling the most. The need I came up with wasn’t academic; it was for safety’s sake. I immediately pictured her putting her chair on a slide in our backyard and trying to slide down, and I decided to design a learning experience that would help her think through decisions before jumping into action.
Next, I started thinking about how to bring her interests together with her areas of growth. I knew that in order to think through decisions, my daughter has to learn how to picture the impact of her choices. I thought this was a great fit for color mixing because she could predict what colors would be created before combining them. This kind of forward thinking is just what I was hoping to develop.
Now that I knew the skills (forward thinking) and concepts (color mixing) that I wanted my daughter to work on, I got to planning activities. This is what I came up with:
1. Explore with Paint
First step: get messy & explore. I put a dollop of red, blue, and yellow paint on a plate and let my daughter go crazy. I showed her how to mix colors on a different part of the plate to put off the inevitable everything-turns-brown moment.
At a school I taught at, we called this kind of intro activity “mucking about.” Giving kids a chance to explore on their own got them engaging in the activity while giving them a chance to discover and wonder on their own. Through this initial color mixing, my daughter was able to figure out that red and yellow makes orange and blue and yellow makes green. I could have easily told her these facts, but this knowledge was way more powerful because she discovered it herself.
I wanted another way for my daughter to explore color mixing, so I found these amazing color mixing glasses. With a selection of primary color lenses that are easy to take in and out, kids can mix colors by placing two lenses over each eye hole. As my daughter mixed and matched, and I made sure to ask her those forward-thinking questions like, “What do you think will happen when you mix these colors?” These glasses were a fantastic (and clean!) way to encourage more exploration and reflection.
3. Find The Perfect Story
Finally, I wanted to read a story about color mixing that would push my daughter’s understanding and summarize what she had learned during her experiments. I could have read the story first, but that would have robbed my daughter of the chance to experiment and explore on her own.
There are lots of great books on colors, but I settled on Mix it Up by Herve Tullet. This book is super interactive and asks kids to touch different paints to “mix” them together. The colors get blended as you turn through the pages, creating opportunities to discuss different color combinations.
After our explorations, I looked at Pinterest and made a color mixing board. Now I have a ready-to-go collection of future activities for us to do together.
What is your child interested in? How could you blend those interests with your child’s areas of growth? Join our free Curiosity Forever Parent Group to get a downloadable welcome gift that walks you through all the steps you need to take to create magical learning experiences at home.