preschool at home | an introduction to color theory


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With our move last month, two important wedding weekends, and the arm-length list of TO DOs in our new place, our homeschool routine has been shuffled and eclectic. I’ll tell you more about that soon, but today I’m sharing another one of our simple homeschooling lessons, an easy introduction to color theory for young children.

lesson //  an introduction to color theory using watercolor and literature  (30+ minutes)

materials used //

    • primary watercolors
    • watercolor paper
    • paint brushes
    • cup of water
    • paint pallette
    • Mouse Paint  by Ellen Stoll Walsh
    • color wheel (not pictured)

description //

To begin, I hand Mouse Paint to my seven year-old daughter, Blythe, and ask her to read it aloud to us. Olive, my newly five year-old, sits next to her at the table and listens to one of her favorite stories. I listen to Blythe read, helping her with inflection, and set up the supplies for painting. When Blythe finishes reading, I ask Olive to retell what happened in the story. I ask both girls if they remember the first three colors in the paint cans. I term them primary. We then talk about what happens when the mice play in the paint. I ask them to recall what new colors the mice create by mixing the primary colors. We term them secondary.

We talk for a bit about all the variations of red, blue, and yellow. (e.g. Do you see blue outside? Where? Are those blues the same? How are they different?) We do the same with the secondary colors.

I give each of the girls a palette of  primary colors, leaving empty spaces between for mixing. I set the water and all of the paint brushes in front of them, reminding them not to mix every color and to rinse their brushes well. I let them mix their own secondary colors, asking them questions such as, “what happens to the orange when you add more yellow than red?” or “How could you make this green more like the shade of our grass?” They each paint a couple of pictures, and by this point, the boys have joined, too. When they’re finished, we set their art aside to dry, and clean up.   Easy peasy and such a delight for all of us. 

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  1. Pingback: handwork: a philosophy + practice in the homeschool - cloistered away

  2. love it. i have that book… or i should say, my isaac has that book. and lately, there has been more talk of homeschooling him than ever before. so i will have to keep this simple lesson in mind… and maybe even try it out at three, well before he starts school. such beautiful images. gorgeous light!

    1. Author

      Yes! It really is quite simple, especially when they’re small. Glad to give you something concrete to try.

  3. I Love that table, honestly! Always wanted a big, rusty wooden table to gather with family and friends

    1. Author

      Thanks girl. It’s my favorite piece of furniture–it’s full of so many stories and precious moments.

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