Home » Teach » Lesson Plans » Lesson 4: Two Color Mixing

Lesson 4: Two Color Mixing

“Repetition and variation are foundational principles in the next phase of creating unified designs.”

– Nancy Smith


Grade Level

3 & 4 year olds

Media Theme/ Big Idea

Painting Explorations: (Yellow + Red = Orange)

Essential Question

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

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools 

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


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What colors did we paint with last week?” 
  • “What color did we make?”
  • “What do you see on my tray this week?” 
  • “We have yellow and red! What do think will happen when we mix yellow and red?” 
  • Review removing the lid off of soufflé cups.
  • Create an area of color in yellow. 
  • “Now I want to use red. Can I put my brush into the red paint? Why not?” 
  • Model cleaning the brush and drying it on the sponge (explain how important it is to dry the brush. Sing brush washing song!)
  • Remind the students of the connection between bathing and drying off before you put on your clothes.
  • Explain that yellow is a bright color but it doesn’t have big muscles! It’s bright, but not too strong. 
  • Than ask, “What do you think will happen when we mix yellow and little bit of red together?” 
  • Model mixing dark orange and light orange. 
  • “How do you think we make a light orange, a dark orange?”

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 red 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 red 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 orange the students are creating and how they are moving their brushes to create patches/areas of color.

Step 3: Reflection

“I see yellow and red in this painting. What color did you make?” You can extend the reflection by asking: “Where do you see a dark orange, a light orange?” 

Review how to make orange lighter and darker with your students.


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