Beginning to explore colors

This week the subject matter of my science literacy curriculum was colors. One nice thing about the PEEP science curriculum is that each of the six units can be used independently. The thematic units do not build upon each other and it is not required that they be taught in sequence.

To prepare for this week’s topic, I filled 1-liter plastic bottles with colored water and placed them on the sunny windowsill above our science center.  I then went a step further and taped some color transparencies on the window itself.

These actions resulted in refracted light being thrown onto our classroom floor. Here was an unexpected learning opportunity!  When the children noticed it, one said, Look! It’s a rainbow! As they examined things more closely, one boy said, No. It’s not a rainbow.  It’s a shadow. A colored shadow. I was excited to hear them discussing this phenomenon and relating it to prior knowledge from our Shadows unit. I decided to move in with some probing questions. How do you know it’s a shadow? I asked them. Chenniel explained, It’s a shadow because I can use my body to block it. He went on to demonstrate:

Where do you think it is coming from? Several children turned at once and pointed up to the window. It’s from the sun! The sun! I made a mental note to plan additional refracted light activities in the future with this group. Such is the crux of emergent curriculum, taking the children’s natural curiosity about their environment and experiences and guiding them to go deeper.

Meanwhile, back at the science center, I had set up some eyedroppers and trays of cells for the children to experiment with color mixing. I observed they were able to delve right in due to prior experience with eyedroppers during our water drops exploration.

Their previous enthusiasm with the sink and float prediction sheets influenced me to provide a clipboard of prediction sheets for color mixing, too. Not every child used the sheets and that was okay. The ones who did were really into them, while others were content to just explore. This happens when children are at different developmental levels and this activity lends itself nicely to differentiated instruction.

Stephen is seen here recording his predictions.




Diego worked with the cells, dropping blue water into yellow, and was content to experience this same result over and over again.


Azy’on and Lilly worked together, but each in a different way. Lilly was trying to get the best ratio of blue to yellow color drops to make green. I think four yellows and 1 blue, she responded when asked for her formula. Azy’on was working to see how many different types of green she could produce.

Later in the week I introduced another cool tool: It’s a little plastic watering can divided into three sections. Children can put two colors into the rear two sections and, as they pour it out, it mixes the two colors producing a third. Here Emmanuel was beaming with pride over making orange.



Diego is so eagerly anticipating the result of Emmanuel’s next experiment with blue and red! His face should be the icon for the word “engaged”:

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