I've been noticing that the children don't know a whole lot about the result of mixing primary colors. Not that this is essential knowledge or something they won't pick up later on, but it told me something about this group. They get too many fancy paint colors around here! Time to get back to basics.
Today's activity offers:
blue, red, and yellow paint
baby food jars
little plastic brushes
This activity resulted in some beautiful colors...ones that you cannot buy from our usual paint supplier. Not only was it a great way to get back to basics, but it was also a great way to explore new varieties of colors that we already know.
With each child and each color added, I tried to infuse the dialogue with open-ended questions about what the children thought would happen as a result of what they were adding to their jars. Not to "teach" them, but to invite them to fully engage in the process on a cognitive level.
If a teacher would have approached the table and asked questions like, "what do red and blue make" or "how do you make orange?" (you know, like quizzing the children), I would have kindly invited that teacher to leave the art table.
They enjoyed the many different colors available, and added colors to other jars of paint that they found pre-mixed on the table.
About halfway through, there were lots of primary and secondary (or tertiary) colors to choose from.
With little guidance on "how much" or "which color" to add for a specific result, we let them explore. I admit, I did ask some of them to save some paint for the other children.
We contemplated offering larger brushes so they could mix more efficiently, and then decided that the smaller brushes invited more focus and persistence to a group of very motivated children. They weren't going anywhere simply due to slow mixing times. They were fully engaged.
We added the butcher paper to the table to invite another level of messiness rather than confining the exploration to an 9x12 sheet of paper.
Hmmmm, there's no brushes shaped like that...
Of course! And the paint colors mix just beautifully right on the hands.
The only part of this activity that I got to experience was my own process and whatever was happening out loud or in a jar, visible to all. What I didn't get to experience was the internal processes of the children, the sense of joy and wonder in getting to choose paints and mix and explore, or the curiosity and scientific thinking that was occurring quietly, in the private world of each child.
Independent thinking, fine motor control, anticipation, cause and effect, even disappointment at getting a color that differs from the desired result. Very important things happened at our art table today.
Could anyone not feel a sense of completion after experiencing this today?
And let's not forget to mention what is not pictured in this post today.
The final products!
Because this activity was all about the process.