Home » Teach » Lesson Plans » Lesson 6: Three Color Mixing

Lesson 6: Three Color Mixing

….As the child’s conception of line, shape and color grows…their capacity for selecting and organizing these elements also increases.”

– Nancy Smith


Grade Level

3 & 4 year olds

Media Theme/ Big Idea

Painting Explorations: Primary Colors

Essential Question

What colors can we make with red, blue and yellow? What colors can we make if we use all three colors together?

  • Unit & Lessons
  • Teaching Guide

Materials and Tools

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


Step 1: Invitation to Explore

  • “What color did we create last week?” 
  • “What other colors have we created/made?”
  • “What do you see on my tray this week?” 
  • “We have blue, red, and yellow! What do think will happen when we mix blue and red? Green and yellow? Red and yellow?”
  • Create an area and mix each of these two color combinations. 
  • Model cleaning the brush and drying it on the sponge (Explain how important it is to dry the brush. Remind students of the connection between bathing and drying off before you put on your clothes.) 
  • “What do you think would happen if we mixed all three colors together?”
  • Model mixing brown: three big dips of yellow, two dips of red, and one small dip of blue.

Step 2: Work-time

  • Invite 3-4 students to the art center. 
  • Encourage them 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 her own tray with a cup of red paint and a cup of blue paint, a brush, deli cup with water and a sponge. 
  • Remind students to wash their brushes between dipping into red or blue. 
  • 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 colors the students are creating and how they are moving their brushes to create patches/areas of color.

Step 3: Reflection

“I see blue, yellow and red in this painting. What new colors did you make?” 

You can extend the reflection by asking: 
“Was it harder to mix green, orange or purple?” 
“What colors did you mix to make____?”


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