Children love the “magic” of combining colors to make a new color. Here's an activity that will give your kindergartener hands-on practice with this concept. Let your child mash, squish, and mix his way to an understanding of color with some shaving cream and food coloring. This art and science activity will show your child how primary colors combine to make secondary colors.
What You Do:
- Learning can be messy, so make sure to put your smocks on first! Now put a plum-sized dollop of shaving cream into each of the three zippered sandwich bags.
- In one bag, carefully squeeze 3 drops of red and 3 drops of blue food coloring onto the shaving cream. In another bag, squeeze 3 drops of blue and 3 drops of yellow food coloring. In a third bag, squeeze 3 drops of red and 3 drops of yellow food coloring. Zip each bag closed.
- Ask your child to observe what happens when he kneads the shaving cream in each bag. How does the shaving cream change? What happens to the food coloring? What colors did red/blue, blue/yellow, and red/yellow turn into?
- If you want to extend the experiment, you can ask your child to predict what will happen when more or less drops of one of the primary colors are used. How can we make the colors deeper, less purplish, or more green? Will red and yellow always make orange? Will blue and red always make purple? Will blue and yellow always make green? Give him more shaving cream and zippered bags to find out.
- When he's mixed enough colors, have your child use the cotton swabs or small paintbrushes to paint a picture using the colors he has created. The finished product with its unique color and texture is great for framing!
What's Going On:
A opportunity for art as well as science, this activity allows your child to see first-hand how the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) can create the secondary colors (purple, green, and orange). And experimenting is an important part of discovery learning, and discovery learning is learning that lasts. As a bonus, the act of kneading the shaving cream for thorough mixing of colors gives your child an opportunity to work fine motor muscles that will be important in handwriting.
Cindy Middendorf, an elementary teacher for 30 years in Tioga Couty, New York, is the author of Differentiating Instruction in Kindergarten, and a nationally respected teacher trainer and mentor.