Colored water play in preschool

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on May 27, 2013

in Colored Water Play, Science and Nature, Sensory Play, Water play

This is the type of activity that you would definitely set up for outdoor play but we were able to enjoy our colored water play in our outdoor classroom…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

At the colored water play station, the children found clear plastic cups, pipettes, and three clear jugs filled with colored water. We added red, blue, and yellow Sargent Art 22-6210 10-Count 4-Ounce Watercolor Magic to color the water…

The colored water was placed near our empty water table for the children to dump their excess water out as they went along and the process was left entirely open ended for the children to explore…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

At first the children wanted to fill their cups with one color all the way to the top so it took a little bit of trial and error for the children to realize that if they would only fill their cup part of the way and then go to the next water dispenser to fill their cups up the rest of the way, they could mix the different colors…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

As the children explored the different colors, they began to catch on to how they could make new colors. At first, the children wanted to use all three colors of water so we had lots of yellowish brown water…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

But later the children began to be more intentional in their water color mixing and produced different shades of green, orange, blue, and purple…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

The colored water play station stayed busy with children mixing colored water for about an hour. We had to refill the dispensers once and dump the excess water out of our water table along the way too.  I have to say that this process really gave the children the opportunity to explore color-mixing like no other opportunity I have ever provided…

but later the children began to be more intentional in their water color mixing and produced different shades of green, orange, and purple...

By the end of their time, the children were confidently choosing the color of water they wanted to make and knew exactly what colors to mix to get that color…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

The children also spent time working together to help each other. When the water level got low, one child would hold the cup while the other children would tip the dispenser to help get the water to come out…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

If you don’t want the children to mix the water in the dispensers, then keep the lids on. By the very end of our time, we took the lids off and the children mixed the water in the dispensers too so we no longer had pretty water to work with but another lesson learned by me and the kids!

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

Oh, and what happened as the children emptied their cups into the other water table, some of the children switched and played with the fish in the water table and some of the children chose to stay and continue mixing colors. One little girl made cup after cup of purple water to fill our empty fish aquarium with purple water…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

As I mentioned earlier, this is most likely a process you would want to take outdoors because water will get on the floor and the children will overflow their cups at times. It didn’t take long for our children to learn to manage the flow of the water in the dispensers but throughout the process, we had quite a few overflows…

Colored water play by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Handprint Color Mixing by Teach Preschool

Mixing Colored Water (Small Amounts) by Teach Preschool

Simple Idea for Mixing Paint Colors by Teach Preschool


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1 Tom Bedard May 27, 2013 at 8:58 am

Children filling containers has always fascinated me. Do they realize they are overfilling or are they just so caught up in the process of filling to stop before it overflows? How great that you set up the activity to give the children enough time and resources to get past the filling stage and move on to the intentional mixing.

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 27, 2013 at 10:13 am

Hi Tom,
In this case, it was hard to tell. Some of the children seemed mesmerized by overfilling and letting the water overflow. It was almost as if it put them in a trance and if I would say something like “Honey, I think your cup is full.” It would break their trance and they would immediately stop but most of the children were accidentally overfilling and self-adjusted along the way. The funny thing is that in our classroom, we self-serve our juice every day and no one overfills. SO I think this was a special occasion of having the freedom to overfill and just enjoying watching the water go over the edge of the cup. I tried not to break that trance unless it was getting to be a bit too much. I hope that makes sense:)

3 Katherine Marie May 27, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Color wonder fun!!!!! Such an incredible activity!

4 Amanda Mason May 29, 2013 at 12:24 am

I love this! How fun that they learned exactly what colors came from mixing. I am sure they will remember those combinations! Thank you for sharing :)

5 Susan Delaney May 29, 2013 at 3:00 am

I love the water containers. Where can I purchase these? I couldn’t find them on Amazon.

6 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. May 29, 2013 at 11:34 pm

I bought mine from Walmart but one of them leaked so I had to return it and get another one:)

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