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Lesson 5: 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: (Blue + Red = Purple)

Essential Question

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

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools

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


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What color did we create/make last week?” 
  • “How did we create orange?”
  • “What do you see on my tray this week?” 
  • “We have blue and red!”
  • Review removing the lid off of soufflé cups.
  • “What do think will happen when we mix blue and red?”
  • Create an area of color with the red paint. 
  • “Now I want to use blue. Can I put my brush into the blue paint? Why not?” 
  • Model cleaning the brush singing the brush washing song. 
  • Review drying it on the sponge (Remind the students of the connection between bathing and drying off before you put on your clothes.) 
  • Create a patch of blue paint. 
  • Explain that red and blue are both strong colors. 
  •  “What do you think will happen when we mix red and a little bit of blue together?” 
  • Add a little bit of blue to a patch of red!   “What color did we make? Purple!”

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 blue paint, a brush, deli cup with water and a sponge. 
  • Review removing the lid off of the soufflé cup.
  • Remind students to wash their brushes between dipping into red or blue. Sing the brush washing song.
  • 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 purple the students are creating and how they are moving their brush to create patches/areas of color.

Step 3: Reflection

“I see blue and red in this painting. What color did you make?” You can extend the reflection by asking: “Was it harder to mix green, orange or purple?”


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