Tag Archives: colors

Magic Potions and Fizzing Formulas- Getting Kids’ Attention With Chemistry!

Calling all mad scientists! 

 Here’s a formula for fun!  I have yet to see a child not get excited by this activity!  While it has many developmental objectives in and of itself, it is also a great attention-getter for a variety of other activities.  Let’s talk about the how-to first, and the when-to later.

First gather your supplies.  You’ll need liquid or powdered coloring, baking soda, vinegar, a baster, a cookie sheet or tray, and a few glass jars (I used 1 quart jars here, but other sizes work well too.  Just do a quick run-through with the ones you choose so that you can anticipate whether or not you’re going to have any overflow.  If you have access to test tubes and beakers that would be a great way to introduce chemistry tools and add more intrigue as well!)

Before your activity, place a drop of color into each jar.  I’ve used both the powder and liquid forms and they both work great!

Next, cover each color with about a half to one full teaspoon of baking soda.  Just make sure you’ve covered all of the coloring so that each jar looks the same.

Place all of your jars onto a cookie sheet or tray to catch any overflow.  Add the baster and a jar of vinegar, which I’ve sometimes referred to as my “highly potent acid” to make things more enticing.

Now it’s time for the magic!  Have the children gather vinegar with the baster and squirt it into the jars, and ………fizz, bubble, they reveal their hidden colors!

Now, as I mentioned, this activity fills a lot of objectives on its own.  Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are strengthened as the children use the baster to add the vinegar.  Additionally, it’s a great science activity as the children explore the reaction of the combined acid and base.  Color recognition is reinforced as the children identify which color each jar holds.  You could add a literacy aspect as well by including color name cards or labels to add to the corresponding jars.

This fun activity could also be included for a variety of other purposes as well! 

I’ve been asked to help out with teaching songs to the children at my church from time to time, and have used this activity for that as well.  I would use words or picture cues to teach the words to the song, each color coded, and then we would do this activity to reveal which clue would be removed as we continued to practice and memorize the song. 

Use it to choose activities like chores, exercises, or even which food to eat off the dinner plate by listing the tasks and color-coding them.  It’s amazing how much more excited the children are to finish their tasks when they know that once they’re finished they get to choose another with this method!

You could also use this as a dramatic play prop as children pretend to be scientists or magicians – just be sure you take necessary precautions to keep messes within acceptable bounds. 

You could also always place them in the sensory table!  Just be sure to prepare a lot of jars and pace yourself in bringing them out so that they aren’t all used up in the first two minutes.  You could arrange your table with the color jars, basters, vinegar, and a bowl of baking soda with spoons to allow for the children to do more experimenting in between new jars.  The children may even start combining the jars, introducing a little color mixing to the activity as well!

Let me know how you us this activity with the children you love and teach!

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Filed under fine motor skills, Learning through Play and Experience, science activity, sensory activity

Book Activity: My Crayons Talk

My Crayons Talk

My Crayons Talk by Patricia Hubbard is a perfect introduction into the interplay between color and language.  The girl in the story explains how her colors talk as she draws.  For example, “Yellow chirps, ‘Quick, Baby chick.'” The accompanying picture shows the girl sitting in a straw-colored meadow, surrounded by baby chicks, while wearing a sunny sun dress and funky sunglasses. 

As you read the story, point out that the colors don’t actually talk in a way the girl can hear, but that the colors remind her of things.  They make her feel a certain way.  After the story, or after each color, talk with the children about what the colors remind them of.

After the story, I like to use this My Favorite Color poem page to do a whole language activity.  It gives each child the chance to think about her favorite color in terms of each of the five senses.  As she completes each thought, her words are written down, creating a connection between the written and spoken word.  You can enhance this language and literacy activity by slowly sounding out the words, or asking questions like, “What letter does ‘blue’ start with?”, or simply thinking out loud as you write (“Purple.  P..p..p.. that sounds like a “p” to me!” “I like writing “T”! Straight down and straight across!”).  Don’t make it overly laborious, but enhance the experience as it feels appropriate.  (For more  tips for encouraging beginning writers, read here.)  Afterward, the children draw pictures right on top of their words, or on the back of the paper, whichever they prefer.  It’s a preschool masterpiece combining visual and language arts along with the five senses!

This activity builds sensory awareness, creativity, and language and literacy skills.  It is also just an enjoyable experience to hear the children’s answers!  Some are poetic, others silly, and some are very matter-of-fact, but they are each unique to the individual child who composed them! 

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!


Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, sensory activity

Book Activity: Mouse Paint

Mouse Paint

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh is one of my very favorite books for teaching about primary and secondary colors.  The children absolutely love it as well.  In the story, three mice climb into three jars of paint (red, yellow, and blue) and then begin dancing, stirring and mixing with their feet as they blend the primary colors together to create secondary colors.  (Incidently, White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker is also fantastic and follows a very similar format.  Just in case one is easier for you to get your hands on than they other!)

I love to follow up this activity with a color mixing activity.  Simple finger-painting works well, as does the Colorful Snack activity.  My favorite way to extend this activity is with tie-dying!  I love to start out with a white rolled up shirt, and then dip it into each color just as the mice in the book.  Here’s how I usually do it.

For starters, I like to follow the spiral pattern explained here at the Rit website.  So read through those directions first, and then my directions might make more sense!  (I could only hope!) I like this because it gives a great wearable sample of color mixing as the colors blend together. 

I start out by putting the water on the stove to heat up as I read the story with the children.  Once we’re done and the water is sufficiently heated, I pour the water into three bowls (this will stain plastic, so ice cream buckets or something disposable is great, otherwise use stainless steel).  I ask the children about the three colors in mice paint as I add the dye to make one red, one yellow, and one blue – just like in the book.  The Rit instructions give specific proportions, but I kind of eye-ball.  About half to a full gallon of water to half a container of dye.  This is much more concentrated than the directions call for, but it gives more vibrant colors.

Then we twist up the shirts as directed and secure with rubber bands to create our white “mice”.  Now, I am generally a very hands-on person, but once it comes to the dying part, I pretty much keep it to my own glove-covered hands.  (I mean, we are talking about boiling hot water and permanent dye.)  I dip the shirts into the first color and have the children count or sing to help me time the process.  I try to get 1-2 minutes in each color.  Give the shirts a quarter turn as you dip them into the next color.  Once you’ve been through all of the colors, you can unwrap them to show the result.  I’ve found, however, that if you let the shirts sit for a few hours to “cure” the colors are a bit better.  So you may want to do a “dummy” shirt so that the children can see the result without unwrapping theirs. 

The Rit directions also say to unwrap the shirts before rinsing.  There tends to be a bit of color picked up by the white areas of the shirt as you rinse, but this is minimized if you do your rinsing while the shirts are still wrapped.  Rinse as well as you can, until they run clear.  The shirts still need to be washed and dried afterward, so there will be some bleeding, but a bit less than if you unwrap before rinsing.

I like to show the shirts again before sending them home, since some time will have elapsed since the activity.  We talk again about the story and how we made the shirts, and I point out the different colors in the shirts.  You can find where the yellow and red meet together to make orange…and on and on.  I send the shirts home with a note reminding parents to be careful as they wash them for the next few washes in case the colors bleed further.  (I usually just wash mine with towels for a while.  Of course, I don’t really have fancy towels though.)

You’ll notice in one of the pictures above, I have one batch of shirts in the red and another in the yellow.  This worked OK, but I found that when I used the same dye for more than one batch, my colors were a bit tainted.  So if you can, do all the shirts at once.  I like to do it with a small group, about 4-6 children at a time, one group per day, so I can have a fresh batch each time.

This is a really exciting activity that incorporates the concepts of primary and secondary colors, wearable art, and the senses as the children see and smell the dye and as they feel the shirts they made.  It is a perfect extension for either Mouse Paint or White Rabbit’s Color Book, which builds language and literacy skills as well.  So glove up, and get into some Mouse Paint!

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!

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Filed under book activity, Building Readers, Create, Learning through Play and Experience

A Colorful Snack

I hope that whoever said children shouldn’t play with their food, is OK with children experimenting with their food.  Many people would agree that food can be an art form.  This snack makes that statement quite literal.

Start with cream cheese (I used Neufchatel here), softened, and some blue, red, and yellow coloring.  I find that the Wilton coloring paste gives the truest colors, but regular food coloring works well too.

Divide it into three containers and add coloring to create one of each of the primary colors.   

Place a dollop of each color on each child’s plate along with some stick pretzels.  Tell the children to imagine that the cheesy dip is paint and the sticks are their paint brushes.  Encourage them to experiment with mixing the different colors on their plates as a palette.  What would happen if they mixed yellow and blue?  Does anyone know how to make purple?  One of my favorite things to do is to ask if the different colors taste any different, which ironically they usually say they do!

The pretzel/cream cheese combination is a bit like the Handi-Snacks you can buy in the store (but made with actual food).   Some children really like it, but others don’t.  Sometimes I think the bright colors make them think it will be sweet and then the savory flavor takes them by surprise. 

You could use this same color-mixing idea in a variety of ways.  You could use ranch dressing , humus, or any other white dip like this pizza dip.  If you’re not too leery of sugar, you could use frosting as your “paint” base.  For your “brush”, you might use pretzel sticks, the thicker pretzel rods, bread sticks, or graham sticks (for the frosting).  Any way you choose to do it, it’s a snack time masterpiece!

Involving children in the creation of their food fills many developmental objectives you can read about here.  This unique food activity also fosters creativity, sensory skillsvisual perception, as well as knowledge about and experience with primary and secondary colors.

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!


Filed under Create, Learning through Play and Experience, Recipes - Edible, Snack Time

Crayons in the Box Song

This is a great song for learning about colors and for building rhyme recognition, an important skill for pre-readers (read more about phonological awareness here).  Use this song during large group, music and movement time, or just as a filler during a transition.  The little ones love it!  Eventually, they’ll be ready to be the ones giving the clues!

Tune: Five Little Ducks (You know, “…but the one little duck with the feather on his back….”)

So many crayons in the box for you,

Red ones, yellow ones, blue ones too. (You’re welcome to change up the colors)

But the one little color that rhymes with (head)

It’s my favorite color, it’s the color….(red!)

(Hesitate at the end so the kiddos can fill in with the mystery color!)

More from the “Exploring the Arts through Our Senses” unit here!

Top photo by ctech.


Filed under language activity, Learning through Play and Experience, music and movement activity

Snow Scene Collage

If you’ve already done a few snowstorm paintings, switch things up a bit and get three-dimensional!  Collect a sampling of random white items to glue onto a snow collage.  Have your children help if you can!  Here are some ideas:  cotton balls, batting, tissue paper, packing peanuts, styrofoam (break it into the tiny balls for realistic snow), white buttons, white tulle, plain old white paper (have the children rip it into pieces for more texture and increased small motor skills), paper with white prints (white on white-ish plaids, stripes, etc.), glitter, salt, white scraps of ribbon or fabric – you notice the theme here, right?  White stuff!  If it can be glued onto paper and it’s white, (and suitable for children of course) it’s perfect!

Prepare the paper as you did in the snowstorm paintings (using colored paper and perhaps a background scene) and then provide an assortment of “whiteness” to be glued on for snow!  (For collage gluing, try this method.)

This process enhances creativity as the children find new uses for “beautiful junk”, and create and express their concept of “snow” through visual media.  The collage aspect increases small motor skills and adds a sensory element with the texture, creating something both visually and tangibly interesting.  So clean out your craft drawers and get all your white “beautiful junk” out on the table!  It’s time for another snowstorm!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by stocker.

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Filed under Create, Learning through Play and Experience

Bring in the Snow!

Next time you’re out shovelling the walk, shovel a bit into a bucket and bring it inside!  Fill your sensory table with snow and try one of these fun activities for exploring the enchanting powder with your little ones!

*Place cookie cutters in the sensory table for the children to press into packed snow.  Using geometric shapes gives you an opportunity to talk about these shapes during the activity and at group time as well, when you pull the cutters out again as you discuss the day’s activities.

*Set out small containers of colored water and droppers for the children to add color to the snow.  You could also use hairspray-type pump bottles with colored water.  These activities promote small motor strength and control, while also providing color-mixing experiences.

*Place colored salt in shakers and see what happens as the children shake the different colors into the snow! 

*Provide containers of various sizes and shapes for the children to pack the snow into and create snowy castles.

*Have the children explore the snow with and without gloves or mittens, and talk about how they keep us warm and why we need them.

*Bring out your magnifiers and look at the snow up close!  Take pictures and/or have the children draw pictures of it.  Spend the day exploring and talking about the snow!  Once the snow has melted, examine it with the magnifiers again, and take/draw pictures again.  Talk about the change and what the children have discovered in the process.  A fantastic science exploration activity that can include the entire process of scientific inquiry!

If you happen to live in one of the corners of the globe where the white stuff rarely makes an appearance, try Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow for a similar experience, as Vanessa suggested!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Photo by Mattox.

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Filed under Learning through Play and Experience, science activity, sensory activity