Color mixing


“I made green!”

The weather has been scorching hot this week, but we are lucky to have some beautiful trees around our classroom, or “the Studio” as it is known.  We recently acquired an old picnic table and it seemed like the perfect opportunity for some outdoor painting.

The lightbox had really sparked a new interest in color and color mixing, so I decided to use this opportunity to offer the children other color mixing opportunities.  We have done plenty of painting before, but I was curious to see whether the children would approach the paints differently following their exploration with color at the lightbox.

I presented the children with a variety of different leaves – picked earlier in the morning from the surrounding trees.  I tried to find examples of a range of different shades of green.  I also offered large sheets of watercolor paper, a selection of brushes, yellow and blue paint (I prefer to use either liquid watercolors or crayola washable tempera – this time we used the tempera).

When choosing the leaves I was so focused on the shades of green that I did not think too much about the type of leaf.  The children however were really interested in how they could use each type of leaf.  The leaves were painted, used to make prints, and one child even used a pine branch as a brush itself!

I sparked a conversation about color mixing, by asking “what colors can you see in the leaves?”

The children looked closely and started describing what they could see.



“Yellowy Greeny”

I asked whether they could make those colors.  Interestingly none of the children commented that they were not offered green paint.  Some children jumped at the challenge and got to work with the brushes and their fingers, whilst other children continued with their leaf exploration.  Suddenly one child squealed,

“I got green.  Look.  On my paper.  It is green!”

We all looked and she explained how she made it,

“I mixed blue like this….and yellow like this….and then it makes green….see!”

The children were very excited by this discovery and some went on to experiment with the blue and green paints on their paper.


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