Color Mixing Experiment with your Kids

Since she was very small, one of my daughter’s favorite books has been The Color Kittens.   This is a delightful story about two kittens whose favorite hobby is mixing paint to make all the colors in the world.  I knew she would be wild about this color mixing experiment, and perhaps your little one will be as well.


  • Red, yellow, and blue liquid food coloring
  • Clear plastic cups (at least six, more is better)
  • 1 paper plate or old newspaper
  • spoons for mixing

The paper plate or newspaper will serve as a place to sit the open bottles of food coloring and mixing spoons to prevent food coloring from dripping onto your work surface.  If you are particularly concerned about spills, you may wish to cover the entire work surface with newspaper.

Mess Control

x plastic cups with water.  Teach the child how to squeeze the food coloring one drop at a time into the cups.  Begin with the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.  You will need about five drops of red for the red cup, five drops of yellow for the yellow cup, and five drops of blue for the blue cup.  Teach your child that these are the primary colors, the colors that can not be made by mixing other colors.

Next, arrange the cups in a line in this order: red, clear, yellow, clear, blue, clear.  Now it is time to learn about the secondary colors: orange, green, and blue.  Teach your child that secondary colors are the colors that can be made by mixing two primary colors.

  1. For orange, you will need about two drops of red and four drops of yellow.
  2. For green, you will need about two drops of blue and four drops of yellow.
  3. For purple, you will need about one drop of blue and four drops of red.

Be sure that your child understands that orange is achieved by mixing red and yellow, green by mixing blue and yellow, and purple by mixing red and blue.

Next, give your child some more cups filled with water and let the child experiment on her own to see what colors she can make, or quiz her by asking her to mix up specific colors.  Supervise so the dye doesn’t end up anywhere it shouldn’t be!

If your child is particularly interested in this project, you may wish to continue teaching her about color with the My Color Wheel Activity Kit.


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