Even with the best planning, things rarely go as planned in Pre-K but this is actually a good thing.

One of my favorite books to read before exploring the process of color mixing is “Mouse Paint” by Ellen Stoll Walsh. It’s a great book to build conversation about colors and color-mixing, plus everyone loves the three little, white and very clever characters in the book.

Naturally, I follow up the book with an exercise in color mixing. Not that I really need to formalize the color mixing process. My students pretty much mix colors in everything we do but I wanted to slow them down a bit for this lesson and see if I could talk them through the process of color mixing a bit. My goal was to have them take their time and talk about the colors as we went along.

Exploring the process as a large group

At least once a week, we explore a process as a large group. It gives us the chance to talk about the process and the children enjoy spending the time together. To prepare our large group color mixing lesson, I set out a large sheet of paper with circles for mixing colors. The children were given white cotton balls (those were the mice) to dance in each color then mix them with another color on one of the open circles.

Don’t over complicate it

Sounds simple enough right? But I had to go and make it more complicated by having the children work with a partner. My idea was that the children would collaborate with one another but this extra criteria in the color mixing planning through the children off a bit.

The more steps or criteria I added to the process of mixing colors, the more the confusing things were to the children. Make it too confusing and the children start to think, this is really just no fun at all so I took a step back and just let them go for it.

Once the children felt free to explore the color mixing in their own way, they were all in. We had all shades of red, purple, green, yellow, orange, and blue showing up around the table. The children talked, mixed, talked, and mixed some more.

When the paint started to run out, they asked for more and continued mixing until the paint colors started looking darker around the table.

The process wins the day

In the end, the process was more important to the children than the collaboration or conversation but still, we had both going on. It just took on a look different than I had envisioned in my head.

You see, I didn’t need to formalize the process of mixing colors. The children naturally do this with or without my planning but having them take the time to focus on the colors they were mixing was a good thing. But what was even better, was just letting them explore the process in their own way.

The results of process art, even if it didn’t go as I had planned it, can be quite beautiful in its own way don’t you think?

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