Tints and Shades

As we continued exploring colors this week, I wanted the children to experience tinting and shading.  I decided to present separate recycled egg cartons filled with white and colored paint and encourage them to mix them on paper plate “palettes”.

This activity was fun and interesting but became even more so when I added the challenge, Try to make a color tint to match something in our classroom, or a  color you have never seen before.

I let them examine hardware store paint samples to get an idea of how many variations of a color there could be. The children liked to hear the unusual names of the color varieties. Then we played a game outdoors with the paint samples: Everyone got a strip of color tints and tried to find a match with something in the playground. This is a game I plan to play again in spring when the grass greens up, trees and flowers bud, and we begin to find more colors in nature.

Later in the week, we added black to the mix and explored shading.

When I told them they could create a name for their invented colors, they set to work dreaming up some unique ones. Dante  developed “puppet blue” and Xavier shaded his blue to formulate a color he called “X-ray vision”. Silanda worked on two colors, “Wet” and “Nice”.

At week’s end, we had a small group discussion about the power of color. Children described the way certain colors could change their feelings. When I am happy I feel like I am yellow, said one child. Another child added, If I feel sad, I just wear pink. Lots and lots of pink.

While the children were intent on the product, I was busy observing the process. I noticed use of the inquiry cycle: Children were connecting the relationship between their actions – adding white or black – and the resulting differences in color.  I also listened for use of new science vocabulary – lighter, darker, tinted, and so forth. I took the opportunity to narrate what I saw, Hmm, I notice that when Victor stirs really well, his paint seems to absorb the white that he added. It looks lighter  now. Oh, now I see he is pouring in some more white. I wonder if it will change…

I used photographs to help children recall their experiences during our “reflect” conversations.  I wanted to see if they had used their exploration to come to any conclusions or develop any theories.

Victor said, If you want the color to be lighter, you put in white. If it’s still too dark, you put more white. And to get a shade? I asked. Just put in black. But just a little. Or you get it all the way black. There’s his conclusion!

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