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Lesson 3: Two Color Mixing

Descriptive comments about children’s work helps to bring into conscious awareness the visual consequences of their physical experiments. It also helps children to formulate their concepts and remember them if the teacher offers names for them and validates the children’s thoughts by recognizing their efforts.

– Nancy Smith


Grade Level

3 & 4 year olds

Media Theme/ Big Idea

Painting Explorations: (Blue + Yellow = Green)

Essential Question

What do you think will happen when I mix blue and yellow?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools 

  • 18” x 24” white paper 80#
  • Blue paint in soufflé cup
  • Yellow paint in soufflé cup
  • 1” brush 
  • Water in deli cup
  • Sponge
  • Tray


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What did we paint last week?” 
  • “What do you see on my tray this week?” 
  • “We have yellow and blue paint!” 
  • Review removing the lids off of the soufflé cups.
  • “What do you think will happen when we mix yellow and blue?” 
  • Create an area of color in yellow. “Now I want to use blue. Can I put my brush into the blue paint? Why not?” 
  • Model cleaning the brush and drying it on the sponge (explain how important it is to dry the brush.) 
  • Sing brush cleaning song: “1, 2, 3, 4, I need to wash my brush some more; 5, 6, 7, 8, now my brush is ready to paint!” Dry brush on the sponge by saying as you flip it from side to side, “1, 2 ,3 ,4!” 
  • Make the connection between bathing and drying off before you put on clothes. 
  • Create a patch of blue paint. Than ask, “What do you think will happen when we mix these two colors together?” 
  • Model mixing dark greens and light greens. “How do you think we make a light green, a dark green?”

Step 2: Work-time

  • Invite 3-4 students to the art center. 
  • Encourage students to stand or sit, whichever is more comfortable for them, so that they can use their whole arm as they move the brush on the paper. 
  • Each student has his own tray with a cup of blue paint and a cup of yellow paint, a brush, deli cup with water and a sponge.
  • Review removing the lids from the soufflé cups. 
  • Remind students to wash their brushes between dipping into blue or yellow. 
  • You will need to be fully present at the table until the students have internalized the brush washing routine into their approach to painting.
  • Comment on the many shades of green the students are creating, and how they are moving their brushes to create patches/areas of color.

**Comment on the students’ efforts, interests, delights and body movements (quick, slow, soft, strong, rhythmic) as they work! Also reinforce brush cleaning! This routine will become internalized with repeated practice.

Step: 3 Reflection

“I see yellow and blue in this painting. What color did you make?” You can extend the reflection by asking: “Where do you see a dark green, a light green?” You might be able to explore how to make green lighter and darker with your students.


Paintbrush, handle, wood, bristle, sponge, mixing, add, blend, light, dark, lighter, darker, top, bottom, corner, middle