Mad Scientist: Color Mixing

Get out your lab coats and Bunsen burners, it’s a mad scientist experiment! Or, at least that’s what this activity from No Time For Flashcards reminded me of as I got everything set up. A few clear containers, water and food coloring is all you need to get started.

Water; at least 3 clear glass containers; red, blue and yellow food coloring; a scooping or squirting device

If your child enjoys scooping and pouring water as much as Scream does, this is a sure fire hit! Oh, I should add: you may want to add an old towel to your supplies list. Toddler + pouring water = spillage, almost guaranteed.

So, it’s pretty simple. Put a little bit of water in 3 glasses. Add a few drops of food coloring in 2 of them (making sure they are colors that can be mixed to create a new color). So, maybe a glass of blue water with a glass of yellow water. Or red and blue. Or yellow and red. You get the idea. Leave one glass clear. If your child enjoys doing this experiment, you can always try it with all of the color combos.

Colored water

Now, set the combo of your choice in front of your child. You can make this a true science experiment, if you want, by asking your child what they think will happen when you mix the two colors. You can even make a chart to keep track of your results. Or, you can leave it a simple color lesson just by letting them mix and showing the results. Just be sure you do talk about it, or it’s all just a bunch of pouring and splashing in water (and hey, that is good fun too). Scream wanted no part in answering questions, so I just let him mix and made big exclamations when the color changed. “Oh, wow! Scream, did you see that? You made GREEN water out of yellow and blue water! How neat! How did you do that? Do you want to try it again? Good job!” He was pretty much pleased as punch with all of the praise.

Anyway, ask your child to scoop one of the colors into the glass that has clear water in it. Then, ask them to scoop some of the other water color into the glass. Watch what happens. Looking at the pictures, it is pretty neat to see that the scooper has blue water coming out of it, but green water is in the glass. So simple. Yet so cool.

Pouring blue into yellow to make green

And that’s it!

We did try this with all of the color combos. Then it pretty much turned into Scream wanting to pour water from glass to glass without regard for colors, and that’s OK too.

What does this teach? The concept of color mixing; that certain colors, when mixed together, create new colors. It reinforces colors your child may already know, or can help you teach them the colors. It can also be used to promote a child’s natural scientific way of looking at things, “What happens if?”.


  1. Love this! We’ll have to give this a try this week. My daughter will probably require three towels-LOL!

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