Saturday, 29 September 2012

Colour Inquiry

Colour Exploration

Our aim was to have the students explore colour using the primary colours. 

We placed only the primary colours (red, yellow and blue) paint at the art center for students to experiment with. 

We wanted the students to discover naturally that when mixing the primary paint colours, new colours can be created. For some students, this became evident right away as they mixed red and blue to create purple and yellow and blue to create green and yellow and red to create orange. Many of the students mixed a lot of paint but it all turned brown. 

Exploring Paint

Extending Students’ Thinking

Students described the colours they saw emerge before their eyes. The discovery of mixing paint and creating new colours allowed for a conversation about colour mixing and which primary colours to use to create a specific colour.

S: I mix the red with the blue and it makes purple. Now I made green!

Ms. P: How did you make green?

S: I mixed yellow and blue.

Ms. P: What would happen if you added more blue to the green you made?

S: It gets really, really dark again.

Ms. Nitsotolis: You don’t have any green paint, I wonder how you made green?

R: Yellow and Blue!

J: I make yellow.

Ms. P: I wonder how we can make any new colours?

J. experiments with mixing new colours to her yellow. She mixes all the colours together and creates a brown colour. A little while later, J. returns to the art center and begins to mix paint while creating dots on her paper. J. creates dots that are different shades of orange.

Ms. P: How did you make your orange dots?

J: I’m making lots of dots for the contest,
look yellow and red.

A lesson in teamwork

During the colour exploration, the students displayed signs of collaboration by sharing their learning with one another. The excitement of their new discoveries made students eager to share with one another. 


Collaboration is a key component of our classroom. The children collaborate when they are engaged at play at the centers, exploring the outdoors, participating in projects and when engaging in group discussions. It was important for us to teach students the word “collaborate” and to have students begin to understand the benefits of collaboration. We began by reading Kathryn Otoshi’s book, One and discussed as a whole group why it is important to work together. 

Colour Sorting

We began our colour exploration by sorting some classroom materials by colour. The students worked together to sort the materials, cut materials and then place the items in jars. The product was six mason jars full of items and sorted by colour. 

The Collaborate Colour Collage

In order for students to see first-hand the benefits of collaboration, students were invited to work together on a class colour collage. Students first used watercolour paints to paint the background. The students then used the materials they had sorted by colour to glue onto the watercolour painting. While students worked on the collage, their discussions, questions and actions all defined collaboration. 

To expand on the concept of collaboration I asked students what they thought collaboration means:

Ms. P: What does collaboration mean to you?

T: Andrea’s helping to get the clean water for our brushes.

S: Teamwork!

Ms. P: What do you mean by teamwork?

T: We are all working together.

Many Hands, One Collage

The final product, a unique colour collage is an example of why it is important to collaborate. This collage would have been a lot of work for one student to complete on his or her own. However, together the collage encompasses the ideas of multiple students and it is a shared project that they can all feel proud of. 

As students worked on the collage they were engaged in conversations that discussed the placement of the found materials, their theories of colour mixing and their conversations highlighted a sense of respect as they listened to the ideas of their classmates. 

Even More Collaboration!

It is important for us to provide the children with many opportunities for collaboration. 

Acrylics on watercolour paper

C.Z. and R.S. observing the acrylic paint move in the bottle.
C.S: Why is it moving so slow?
Ms. P: Let's feel the acrylic paint. What does it feel like?
C.Z: Its hard and sticky.
Ms. P: I wonder what would make the paint less sticky?
C.Z: Maybe some water. 

These collaborative paintings sparked conversations about colour mixing theories. Students practiced teamwork skills as they listened respectfully and shared ideas with one another. 

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