Monday, June 20, 2011

Color Mixing

I can see that this summer the postings are going to be irregular...just a heads up.  :-) 

Today we started a series of color mixing lessons, idea from Carol at  We plan on creating a book of our work.  So, those of you who are parents of my students, your child's artwork will be here for a bit as we work through several sessions. 

We started by reading the book Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh.  This is a great book to introduce/review coloring mixing with preschoolers.  Of course, take a moment to talk about the parts of the book, about the author/illustrator.  Talk about how the illustrations were made and so on.  Today I started reading the book upside down as well as changing a few words as we've read the book before.  This helps them really stay tuned in to the words you are saying because they ALWAYS like to catch the teacher/adult in a "mistake".  Starting the book upside down or going from back to front is a great way to see if your young preschoolers are aware of some very basic print concepts. 
So, back to color mixing.
Terms I use frequently with preschoolers (all basic color theory):
* color names (of course :-P) I use violet/purple interchangeably to get them use to both names.
* primary colors (red, yellow, blue)
* secondary colors (colors made when mixing two primary colors-orange, green, violet)
* shade (making darker with black)
* tint (making lighter with white)
* color wheel (a chart in a shape of a wheel that can tell us how colors relate to each other)
* contrast (I often encourage them to note the contrast when they have two complementary colors next to each other.  Light/dark)

others that I use with specific children depending on development and interest.
* complementary colors (colors opposite of each other on the color wheel)
* neutral color (black, gray, white and typically the gray-brown color made when mixing two complementary colors.)
* analogous colors (three consecutive colors on the color wheel)
* intermediate or tertiary colors (colors made mixing a primary and secondary color)
* monochromatic (one color...this is often talked about with one color collages or if they create a piece of work at the easel that falls under the category).
* polychromatic (more then one color)
* warm colors (reds, yellows, oranges)
* cool colors (blues, greens, violets)
* composition (how they have arranged their work)

Children LOVE big words...use them!  Maybe they won't remember it the next time they do something similar but you are already setting the tone for noticing and describing details.  It helps them feel good/confident about their work to hear someone use a "big word" to describe it.  It's setting the foundation for excellent vocabulary, which we know is one of the greatest factors influencing the ability to be successful in reading.  Feel free to keep a list of art vocabulary posted on a wall nearby until you know them very well yourself.  :-) 

So today was a very basic introduction/refresher lesson.  We read the book and talked about the primary colors and secondary colors and which primary colors mix together to make the secondary colors.  Always wise to have a simple color wheel on hand when you are doing an art lesson.  If you don't have one already, there are many available on the Internet.  Just search "color wheel printable".  (Here's a cool one that I found and plan to incorporate with our flower theme next year! )The children used a chunky short brush and a long skinny brush to work with the colors red and yellow.  I plan to vary the tools for each session. I chose to use a 9x11.5 piece of white card stock for the first piece of work and then provide other paper for any additional explorations they would like to make. Their task for this first page was to
1) use the entire paper (which is why I only provided a 9x11.5 page vs. a 12x18 piece of construction paper) and
2) I would like to see all three colors-red, yellow and orange.
FYI: the top right hand piece of artwork was an extra exploration piece done by one of the children that was finished before I took the picture.   There were others still working.  Reminder: on the exploration suggestions.  They do what they wish with their supplies. It's sometimes SO hard for adults to just keep quiet!  It takes some work on my part, even after 15 years in this field, to bite my tongue and let them do and find out on their own.  Children learn best by doing.  If they ask questions or are concerned after the fact, then go ahead and "explain" if you wish but don't interrupt the process!

Hope your Monday went well! 

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