Science activities that children initiate motivate teachers to extend and expand the activity. Children learn more details about their area of interest and make connections with other concepts when they work more than once on activities about the same concept, such as mixing colors. If you see a child noticing colors mixing at the easel, offer to bring out additional materials to explore color mixing.
See the October Early Years column, Color Investigations in Science and Children (NSTA membership required) to read about additional coloring mixing activitities.
When an activity is both easy to prepare and easy to clean up, teachers are more likely to see that it happens, and to encourage the children to repeat the activity. These two circumstances can come together in activities where children are mixing and separating colors with a variety of materials. Colored acetate (sold as clear wrapping paper in party stores) is dry, easy to store, and easy for children to handle over and over again to create new colors when they overlap the squares of color.
Mixing paint need not be messy if tiny spoonfuls are served onto a plate, mixed with a single finger, pressed with a paper towel or sheet of paper to record the colors achieved, and then washed off the plate to begin again. The young scientists repeat the process, discuss their procedures with each other, and record their results. Don’t worry that you are stifling their work by using small amounts on occasion. Children enjoy changes in scale, going small and going big!
In collaboration with their students, teachers discover new ways to explore familiar concepts. Tell about your color explorations in a comment so we can all learn.