Who really knows? Ask your favorite children and their answers will range from two to two billion!
Children live around colors. They see in color and they eat in colors, too. Colors that inspire them and colors that surprise them. Colors that frustrate them and colors that surround them. They are everywhere and in every child’s vocabulary. Colorful words often appear in conversations, descriptions, and highly likely in games like “I spy with my little eye.”
In this video, you noticed two children having a blast mixing and making new colors. They have done this quite a few times and every time they revisit their findings, it’s as if they are brand new and have been recently discovered! The open-ended explorations with colors enrich children’s abilities to solve problems in a variety of ways. First, they need to negotiate the eye dropper and how much of each color will make whatever kind of shade they want. They are developing fine motor skills that will be used more often when they write, draw, study a very small object, pick up food, play an instrument, etc.
When they mix colors they come up with shades that any marker company would love to have in their collection! Children start naming new colors when they make them. This is a great opportunity to develop new vocabulary. They chart the places where certain colors can be found and sort them by shades. We sometimes use a color to go on a scavenger hunt outside and find a match for a certain shade in the tray. Such fun detective work!
Children are constantly noticing patterns around them and the more they are exposed to them the better they become at predicting or constructing new learning. They use their observations when they solve problems and use this new information to adapt to new situations. And all this happens through direct experiences like mixing colors. This is a playful way of learning about categories, sorting and grouping based on similarities and differences; such powerful ways of learning for young children (and dare I say adults, too?)!
Set-Up for Episode #9:
- Trays ‘pockets’ (i.e.: food trays from Quiche, crab cakes, or Styrofoam egg crates, etc). The other alternative is to use recycled lab trays, or painter’s palettes
- Eye dropper, or straws
- Food coloring (often found in the baking needs isle at your local grocery store)
- Sponges for spills, or paper towels
- Bowl for emptying trays
Lab trays can be found at online science stores. The Styrofoam egg crates (especially white) work really well. I found that sometimes, the egg dropper might be challenging for very young children and while the straw is often a good alternative, spoons work just as well.
A good way to keep this set-up handy is to always store all the materials in a clear box, or a bag that is accessible to you. When the materials are all stored in one place, your children can also help setting things up they way like it to be. If you have to think about the set-up twice, and open ten cabinets to find everything, chances are that, by the time you have everything down, your children have changed their minds and are way off into something else. I often keep the colored water mixed in recycled plastic bottles. That way, they are ready to go. It’s always nice to have children ‘prepare’ the bottles before you store them so they feel like they are part of the process from the very beginning. A nice way to go beyond the primary colors is to use liquid watercolors (also found at online art sites). The possibilities are infinite!
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