Mixing It Up...Our Colour Inquiry

I truly believe that if you just take a moment to stop and actually listen to children, something magical can happen in your classroom.  Here's what I mean...
Several weeks back, a student came up to me while we were cleaning up and asked whether she should put this marker back with the red markers or purple markers (we sort our supplies by colour).
I asked her to think about it and she wasn't sure.
So I suggested we try an experiment to see what if this marker was either a shade of red or purple.

I set out white paint and red and purple paint.  Another student was very interested in what we were going to do.  So the two added white paint to each colour and watched what happened.

They quickly saw how both colours lightened and realized that the marker was actually a shade of purple.

There was so much interest from many other children to create colours of other markers.
We were mixing and creating new colours each day!
This was a perfect opportunity to introduce the colour wheel to the class, and discuss primary and secondary colours.

This provocation was set up for the children - using eye droppers to mix the primary colours and see what colours could be made.

After having many discussions around primary colours and creating secondary colours, we left primary colours of paint along with white and black paint and Q-tips to see what would happen.

The children began asking questions about making shades lighter and darker, and quickly realized that by adding more of either black or white, this could happen.

Our students also noticed that on the paint samples displayed where the markers are, each paint had been given a name.  We invited them to name their new colours as well.

For several weeks, we noticed how the children were quite interested in using various tools to create new colours.  They soon began using the drawing techniques we had introduced earlier in the year.  The students drew pictures in pencil and then traced with permanent marker before using their new paints!

To try something new, mirrors and watercolour paints were set up near the art area.
This new way of painting was truly a favourite by all!

In the hallway outside of our classroom, the overhead projector was set up to explore colour palettes and light.  

Another teacher leant us her colour prism and the students were so interested to see all the different colours that projected onto the wall!

One student spent a good part of the day trying to figure out how to make black on the overhead projector using all of the colours.  She quickly saw that black has shades too!  She represented her learning by mixing black and white to form these many shades.

We had printed many of our inquiry pictures for the students to see in colour and placed them in our inquiry binder.  Some students wondered what would happen if we printed the pictures of our new colours in black and white - what would the colours look like?
So we tried it!
One student took this photo of her friend and we learned about the many filters on our iPad.

Then we continued to print our pictures in black and white.  We noticed that the lighter colours, such as yellow and orange, were lighter shades of grey, and that the darker colours, such as blue or green, printed in darker shades of grey.

We couldn't imagine all the learning taking place from this one little question posed by our student.  Sometimes it's easier for a teacher to simply say the answer and move on.  Can you imagine if we had done that?  None of this amazing learning would have happened!

1 comment

  1. Your students and paretns are so fortunate to have a teacher who can turn an accidental discovery into an intentional teaching opportunity.


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