Want to help your child learn more about colors? Try this simple, hands-on color mixing activity to teach about primary and secondary colors!

All kids love colors- but once your child has learned to name and identify the colors of the rainbow, there’s still more to learn and explore!

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When my oldest was a toddler one of his favorite activities included standing at the sink with a couple of jars of colored water and and a turkey baster. He’d stand there forever just mixing away and experimenting. 

Similar to that activity, here is a simple, hands-on activity to help solidify the primary colors and how they  mix together to make all the other colors. 


quick and easy color mixing activity


How to Create a Simple Color Mixing Activity Station for Kids


Kids learn best through their hands and play. It’s one thing reading about colors- but it’s another entirely to CREATE them yourself. 

This is a very simple activity that you probably have all the supplies for on hand already at home. So let’s get started:

Here’s the basic supplies for creating your color mixing station- I have also provided alternatives in case you don’t have the exact supplies. 

6 small clear containers. I use tiny bowls and jars. You can also use plastic cups.  The main thing here is that the containers be clear. Your kids need to be able to see the colors without a doubt. 

3 pipettes or droppers. We have small dropper bottles with glass pipettes that we use most of the time. You can also use plastic pipettes. Don’t have those, a turkey baster works great! If you don’t have any of those you can teach your child to hold one end of a straw and release it over another container or simply use a spoon.

Food coloring in red, yellow, and blue. Liquid food coloring is the best, but paste food coloring works too. Don’t have any? Try a small amount of paint.

Water. We all have water, right?

A tray. I love using trays to contain activities. It gives the kids a clear area where spills can happen. If you don’t have a tray- you can do this in the sink, on a cookie sheet or large pan. 

A sponge. This is optional. But good for allowing the kids to clean up their own spills.

And that’s it! That’s all you need. 


color mixing station set up on a tray


Here’s how to set up the activity:

Start by placing a small amount of each primary color (blue, red, and yellow) into a jar (one color per jar). Then add water and mix.

Place these colored waters on your tray with the other supplies- the droppers, 3 more bowls, and the sponge if using.  

Then let the kids loose. 


jars of colored water and pipettes for mixing colors


How to Play with the Color Mixing Station

You’ve got 2 options here- directed or undirected play. 

I like to use a combination of the two. 

Start with directed play. Encourage your child to choose a color and move a few dropper-fulls to a new bowl. Then ask them to choose a second color. Have them guess what will happen when they add the new color to the first one. 

Use vocabulary like primary colors to describe blue, red, and yellow. 

Then have them drop the second color into the bowl with the first. Have them identify the new color made. 

Use the word secondary color to describe the new colors of orange, purple, and green. 

You can also ask them to create a color to see if they remember which 2 colors come together to make these secondary colors.


2 boys at a table mixing colored water


Once you’ve directed them for awhile, just let them play undirected. 

I like to add a large empty jar to the tray where they can pour their mixtures and start again. 

Most of the time they create new bold colors- or just a whole lot of brown!

Make sure to encourage them to use the sponge to wipe up any spills and drips!

You can also substitute other interesting containers for them to explore with the colors. Using the pipettes is a great small motor activity too!


dropper bottled with colored water

Add in new and different containers to mix colors in!


Books to Support this Color Mixing Activity

This is a favorite activity for all my kids through the years. We actually kept this tray on our shelf all through their childhood for them to come and take and do as they wish. 

But like most knowledge, doing a variety of activities and readings can help solidify what they learn.

Here are 2 of my favorite color mixing books  to do along with this one.

Mouse Paint– a great little book for kids about 3 mice who discover jars of red, yellow, and blue paint.

Little Blue and Little Yellow– a cute book about 2 friends who accidentally mix to become green. This is a household favorite.


boy mixing colored water in jars and bowls


More Color Activities for Kids

Want to explore colors and rainbows some more? Try some of these color based activities!

Rainbow Kankinsky Circle Project

Yellow Sensory Bin for Toddlers

11 Simple and Fun Color Activities for Toddlers

Crumbled Tissue Paper Rainbow Craft

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