Colours in Bubbles
Provide a large bowl outside filled with soapy water. Make sure the bowl of water is in the sun as this will make it possible for the children to see rainbows in the bubbles. Also give the children some bubble blowers so they can blow their own bubbles. Have the children look at the bubbles and find and the rainbow colours in them. Talk about the colours they can see in the bubbles. Talk about other times that children are able to see rainbows. This is a good time to introduce the concept that rainbows are created when sunlight shines through water and splits into many colours. I then talk about how water + sun = rainbows, and when explained in such terms, the children are easily able to understand the concept. I promote lots of discussion about the colour in the bubbles. Then as an activity for portfolios I trace out lots of medium circles onto different coloured pieces of paper to make bubbles. Next I get children to choose a coloured bubble they like best. I get each child to talk about their experience with the bubbles, the colours they saw and what they know about the rainbow colours and write this onto their bubble. If there is room I get them to draw a picture too. This helps the child to orally explain their understandings about colour.
Many Shades of Paint
Another interesting thing to do is to try to provide paint that comes in different shades and tones. For example, sometimes I like to add white paint to the primary colours and provide them along with the usual primary colour paint that the children are used to. This helps to promote conversation about "light" and"dark" colours. You can then encourage children to use that type of vocabulary to describe colours eg 'Do you think that is a light colour or a dark colour?' You can also encourage children to experiment with these colours in their paintings eg 'Can you paint a light blue sky and a dark sea? I also like to create different shades of paint by mixing the primary colours together. I like to provide colours that the children don't get to use very often such as purples, greys and browns and pastels such as lemon yellow, apricot, lilac etc. I think it just makes things a bit more interesting for the children. I even like to provide black every now and then. I know a lot of educators cringe at black, but I think it's important that children are able to express their ideas and feelings through a range of colours and shades...black included. You get some very interesting paintings when black is included!!!
Many children will come to school with an ability to label most primary colours. Here are some activities to extend children's ideas about colour
Reinforcement through Routines
As so many children already know their colours when they get to school, I really don't find it necessary to do whole themes on each colour. Instead, I use the opportunity of a routine to reinforce children's knowledge. For example, say it is time for the children to go and wash their hands for snack time or to go and collect their bags for home time, I will use this opportunity to get them thinking about colour. I might ask each student to label a colour on a colour chart before they go and wash their hands. Or I might ask all the children in blue to stand up and get their bag. I might even ask each individual child to find another child that is wearing a colour I have chosen, and take them to wash their hands eg Sarah can you see someone who is wearing green? In this way routines are made fun, but also provide a learning experience about colour. Also, it gives you an opportunity to note children that have grasped colour concepts, and those who are still in the learning stage.
Colour I Spy
Sit with the children and play the game of I Spy only have the children try to find colours. "I Spy something red". When it is a child's turn to choose an object, get them to whisper their answer in your ear, so you can make sure they know the correct colour of the object they have chosen. This is another informal way of seeing how much children know about colour
Colour through Water Play
If you have a large water basin, you can make water play more interesting by adding a drop of edicol dye to the water. These dyes are quite safe and last for ages as only a small amount of powder is needed to colour the water. Another thing my students really love is when I fill small buckets with different coloured water, and give them a paintbrush each. I then let them go and paint the footpaths, walls etc (outside only!). This is always sure to get the children talking about colour.
Once the children know the names of the primary colours it is interesting for them to learn how colours can be created by mixing them with others eg blue + yellow = green. I set up a table for children with pots of red, blue, yellow, green, black and white paint; large pieces of white paper; brushes; and two small pots of water for cleaning the brushes. First I introduce the concept of colour by talking about the colours in the paint pots and discussing familiar things in the environment that have particular colours eg "Here is green in this pot, let's think of some things that we know are green'". Next I introduce the concept of mixing colours eg "I wonder what would happen if we took 2 of these colours and mixed them together?". Have the children predict. Next I would demonstrate with 2 colours and discuss the results with the children. I would do this with all of the primary colours firstly and show them how green, orange, brown and purple can be created. To present this for a portfolio format, you can set up a worksheet as pictured to the right.
Colour Mixing with White
Introduce white and show how it can be mixed with red to make pink and black to make grey. Talk about how white makes colours "lighter". Add white to other primary colours so that children can see how light colours are created by adding white paint to the primary colour. Lastly, let the children have time to experiment with mixing the colours on their own piece of paper. A bit of guidance will be needed here to encourage them to only mix 2 colours together, as it is very tempting for them to mix all of the colours together :-). This is a great lesson to promote lots of discussion and discovery about colour.
Safety Colours Part 1
From traffic departments, or police stations it is sometimes possible to get posters showing various road signs. Collect some of these and gather pictures of road workers and traffic lights. Display these for the children and talk about how colour is used to warn people about dangers. Look firstly at road signs - talk about how red is used to warn people to stop and yellow is used to warn people to slow down for danger. Next look at traffic lights. Talk about what the colours in the traffic lights mean. Talk about what happens if people disobey the warning colours on road signs and traffic lights. The next topic of conversation could be about the safety colours that road workers wear. Why do they wear bright colours? What do the bright colours mean? Discuss how colour is used to make people easily seen and to warn people of danger.
Safety Colours Part 2 - Bicycle Safety
Collect pictures of people riding bicycles and gather different coloured t-shirts - 2 bright colours such as white and yellow and 2 dark colours such as black and navy. Look at the pictures and talk about safety when riding a bicycle eg what do you need to wear when riding a bike? How can we ride our bikes safely? etc. Mostly the children will talk about helmets. It is at this time to talk about the importance of wearing bright colours when riding a bicycle or out walking. Talk about why brighter colours are better to wear when riding a bike than dark colours. Next get 4 children to put on the 4 shirts. Turn off the lights in the classroom or get the children in the shirts to stand in a well shaded area. Discuss with the children which shirts are easiest to see in the darkened area. A further demonstration could be to pin up 2 pieces of black paper on the board. Paint one piece of paper with a large spot of black paint and blue paint. Paint the other piece with a large spot of white paint and yellow paint. Again discuss which colours are easiest to see. Emphasise to the children that they need to be wearing bright colours when they are out riding their bike or walking
Safety Colours Part 3 - Traffic Lights
Firstly you will need to make a large set of traffic lights to pin on the board. Also paint 3 large paper plates - one red, one green and one yellow. Attach these to long popsticks or twigs. These are going to be traffic lights for a game in the lesson. Also make a walk/don't walk signal. Attach this to a broomstick or similar. Recall with the children what the colours on traffic lights mean and what happens if the traffic lights are not obeyed. Next take the children outdoors or to another area where there is lots of room for them to move. Explain that they are going to play a game where they are the cars and they must obey the traffic signals. Get them to stand some distance away from you and then have them walk towards you. Hold your 3 paper plate traffic lights up at different times to make the children move, stop or slow down. The children should find this a lot of fun. After that, sit them down and talk about the walk/don't walk sign and the reason that we use them. Talk about the consequences of disobeying the walk/don't walk sign. Next play the game again but this time using the walk/don't walk sign.
Traffic Light 1
As an extension of the activity the children could make their own traffic light. Provide the children with milk cartons and black paint. Get them to paint the milk carton black. When it is dry, give them red, yellow and green paper circles for them to glue onto the carton, making sure they glue them in the right order.
Traffic Light 2
Provide children with large paper plates. Have the child paint one side red, and when it is dry paint the other side green. Attach the plate to a popstick. The children then have their own traffic signal to play the traffic game with their friends.
Warm Colours - Cool Colours
One of my student teachers, Sunny, developed this lesson after finding the idea in one of my books. For the lesson about warm colours assemble pieces of cloth in shades of red, pink, brown, yellow and orange. Have a brainstorm with the children about the colours - get them to think about things that remind them of the colours eg the sun, flowers, autumn leaves, fruits, hot days, fire and so on. Get the children to brainstorm ideas on what sort of pictures could be created using the colours. Provide the paints with large pieces of paper and get the children to paint a picture using the colours. Scribe the child's description of their painting at the bottom of the paper. You will have some very interesting pictures created. I once extended this lesson by providing strips and pieces of crepe and coloured foil in the warm colours for children to add onto their paintings. This really helps to further the children's ideas, and encourage their creativity.
The cool colours lesson is the same as the warm colours lesson only using the colours blue, green, navy, grey, white etc. To extend the lesson provide the crepe and foil strips and pieces and perhaps even cotton balls or something similar for children to glue onto their work.
Miss G's Aussie Kindergarten
This page was last updated on: April 12, 2011
Ice Cube Tray Colour Mixing
Collect 3 baby food jars, a white ice cube tray, a plastic eye dropper, and a small piece of sponge for spills. Fill each jar with coloured water - one jar needs to have red, one with blue and one with yellow so that the colours can be mixed together. The aim of this activity is for the child to use the eyedropper to mix the colours in the ice cube tray. Show the child how to use the dropper to carefully move some red water to the ice cube tray. Next show how to add some yellow water to the red water using the dropper. The colours must be added together in one of the ice cube tray slots. Discuss the resulting colour. The child can use the remaining slots to experiment with creating other colours. Even young children can do this activity if they are clearly guided in how to use the materials. I would recommend placing all the materials on a tray so that should any small spills occur they will be contained on it. The small sponge can also be used to soak up any drops of water as necessary. Children will be fascinated by this activity.