When the boys arrived on May 8th, I presented them with a challenge. They were going to make a colour wheel with only 3 colours. The Primary colours. I explained the wheel like a pie, cut up into 12 pieces, and M had a good joke.

M: Should I get the cake forks?

I think it was a great activity that could teach a great deal about colour mixing, and how colours relate to each other. It was an opportunity to do some purposeful mixing, and practice perfecting the colour ratio.

Carson: I made green!
H: I know how to make dark green, add more blue.
Carson: I know how to make light green, blue and yellow. What makes it lighter?

Not only was Carson learning about colour mixing, he was also learning about how to hold a brush, and how to apply paint effectively. At first, Carson wanted a bigger brush than the ones I had out for them, so I gave him one. No sooner did he start, that he realized bigger doesn’t mean better. He found much more success with a smaller, more appropriately sized brush.

Carson: Do we add more blue to this?
Rachel: Yah, more blue.
Carson: To make it dark. I can get it really dark. I got it really dark!

M: Ta-da! My first piece of pie, done. Looks like I made the perfect alterations. What should I do now? I’m going to do the blue and the green.

M was so motivated to try the next set of colours, the blue and yellow mixing.

M: Look at that beauty! (A lovely green)

Rachel: Wow, H is fast!
H: Since I have a really steady hand. I’ve done a lot of things that I need a really steady hand for, so I am pretty good at this. I have good brush skills. Rachel, there’s only one problem now. I don’t know how to make purples, I’ve never got any experience with purples.
M: H. Red and Blue.
H: Oh. Rachel this is beautiful. This is my lightest colour. Now how do I make it more dark? Perfect! It’s all finished.

M showed me his first mixed green colour.

M: Okay, I think I might have stepped a little over the top Rachel.

He used the first shade he mixed as his middle green, and added more yellow to make it lighter.

M: Okay, now my challenge is this…. Make it darker. Oh that is so perfect!

H finished his a few minutes before the others.

H: I’m actually surprised I’m the first one finished.
M: Well H, the more time you take, the better your portrait turns out.
Rachel: Yah sometimes fast is good, sometimes slower is better.
H: In this case going fast worked.

H: I’m surprised you made the same purple that I did. Rachel, take a look at his, see that, now come now look at mine. His darkest one is my medium one.



Carson: Hey it’s going orange!
H: That’s actually a pretty nice orange.
Carson: Mine’s the best.
H: I made my oranges light. I made some light oranges.
Carson: Mines the best.
M: All ideas are great.
Carson: Mine’s the best. Mine’s the best.
H: Your red shades are the best, my purple shades are the best and M’s greens are the best. We each have a good shade.

The colour wheel challenge extended to the girls’ class next. Some of the kids had very little experience mixing colours. The potential for a huge leap in understanding colour relationships was abound. They learned how powerful red can be when up against yellow, and the same for blue. The darker colour always seemed to be more powerful.

Miya: This is kind of like a gold.

Jaiden: I might need more blue to make the middle colour.

I encouraged them to test their theories, and mix the paint together in different ratios.

Jaiden: I’m wondering if this is lightest, medium or darkest. I think darkest.
Miya: It looks like they are exactly the same. (Comparing greens she had mixed)….This looks like it should go in the middle.

The kids were problem solving, collaborating their knowledge, and and using their developing understanding to guide them.

Miya: I think this is going to be the darkest. I added lots of blue.
Jaiden: Oh my. Does this look like the lightest one? I added more red. Medium maybe.
Miya: I started off with medium.
Jaiden: Okay, I think this can’t go any lighter!....It smells like cranberries in here. Maybe it’s just because I’m thinking of cranberries because of the colour.
Miya: We had them for a snack.
Jaiden: I think it’s just because of the colour.

When the kids got their primary colours down, Abi made a connection.

Abi: It looks like a beach ball now!
Lainey: A beach ball with a lot of blank spots.

Purposeful Colour Mixing

Isla needed more direct instruction to get the desired colours. Left to her own devices, she was inspired to mix all the colours together, just to see what happened. Part of me wanted to let her just mix all the paint together to her hearts content, but part of me also wanted her to learn from this about all the different ways she could mix to get specific colours.

Abi: How’s this orange?

Evie: Do I put it right here?

Evie was a quick learner, and kept on checking in to see that she was on the right track.

Evie: Now what one?
Abi: How’s this for green?
Rachel: You be the judge.
Abi: It’s good. I’m going to put it in the middle.
Lainey: This looks more like a yellowy colour.
Isla: Look at my green. It’s a pretty green.
Abi: It is a nice green. Did you just mix it with yellow? And blue? I’m trying to make a darker green. I think I’m going to need more yellow.
Lainey: First you start off with a dark green, then lighter, and lightest. I’m gong to add a bit more blue. …So the bright one goes nearest to the yellow, or nearer to the blue?

Evie: Is this a good purple?
Alyssa: I’ve made more of a bluey purple here.
Lainey: I really like this tourquisey blue…
Evie: Now what?