Hands-On Learning: Colors


We have a lot of fun with science around here. Once you get to know me a little, you come to expect random “science days” or experiments—and lots of messes! It makes sense after all, I write nonfiction for kids, parents, and teachers and mainly focus on science and nature topics.

You’d expect, then, that I have brainwashed my children to have a nurtured within my children a love of science, too. One of our favorite recent experiments dealt with color.




We set up baby food jars with water colored with food coloring – red, blue, and yellow, and had one filled with clear water. (We do have one off to the side with green water too, despite the fact that we were focusing on primary colors. Trevor could not resist the green bottle just sitting there, so we made the jar up for him to play with later, but set it off to the side.)

In the picture above, you’ll see one of my favorite science tools – giant plastic test tubes, or “baby soda bottles,” from the Steve Spangler website. These babies can withstand anything, so they’re perfect for little scientists.

In our test tube rack, we have test tubes filled partway with clear water. And, in our baby food jars, we have a plastic straw. Trevor used these tools to further his understanding of colors. He experimented by mixing colors in the test tubes (holding his finger over the end of a straw to pick up drops of color from one jar, and uncovering it to drop the color into a test tube.)




You might want to have a roll of paper towels on hand. Winking smile 

This was a fun activity. Trevor could experiment with shades by adding clear water to dilute the color, making it lighter, and adding more of another color to deepen it.




I will say… this is not an activity for the faint of heart. Food coloring stains, and can easily migrate from the newspaper to the table to the floor… Be careful!

We’ll be revisiting this experiment, though, probably more than once. There’s nothing like a hands-on experiment to solidify an understanding of colors and how they work together!