Cotton ball color mixing!

Cotton ball color mixing!

If you haven’t ever tried cotton ball color mixing with your students, then let me encourage you to give it a go! It is such a simple process and yet engaging to a mixed age group of students. Here is how it works…

The invitation

The invitation to explore colors and color mixing with cotton balls is definitely inviting all by itself. My students didn’t hesitate to head on over and get right to work.

Most of the children began by putting one color on each cotton ball. I noticed at this stage, their focus was on color and absorption. What would happen if I put the red water on the cotton ball. A little science!

I eventually invited some of the children to see what might happen to the color if they put more than one color on a cotton ball.

The more color the children added, the more they could see the colors mix together.

All throughout the morning the children stopped by to explore the process. Often times, coming back around for a second or third look at our color mixing station. When the cotton balls were full of color, I simply rinsed off the tray and set up a new tray with cotton balls to start up again. I purposely left the cotton balls spread out so the children would be more thoughtful in the coloring process rather than color a whole clump of cotton balls at once. Super simple to set up and keep it up!

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10 Comments

  • Nina England Posted January 31, 2017 10:38 am

    Perfect! I have been looking for a way to mix colors with out wasting a lot of materials or having to big of a mess and this solves it! Thanks so much for sharing! I look forward to following 😉

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted January 31, 2017 9:02 pm

      Thank you Nina!

  • Chris Posted January 31, 2017 11:55 pm

    I will have to try this! We mix primary colors in test tubes, and this is a great next step. How many children did you have in the class, Deborah, and how many cotton balls did you end up using?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted February 1, 2017 12:06 am

      Hi Chris! We had 23 on this day and didn’t even go through a whole bag but you need to spread the cotton balls out so they take more time – not leave them in a clump:)

  • Randi Posted February 1, 2017 8:43 am

    Where did you get your trays for the cotton balls and the one for the water color cups? Thanks for sharing. I’ve usually done water color mixing in small cups with water and I really like this twist!!

  • Renee Porter Posted February 3, 2017 11:55 am

    This week we did color mixing in ice cube trays. This could be another way to extend it next week with something different. I like the idea of them getting to see the absorption into the cotton ball. Thanks for the idea.

  • Leigh Bell Posted February 5, 2017 10:40 am

    What kind of paint did you use in the cups? Thank you! Love the idea of using the pipettes to pick up the colour!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted February 5, 2017 10:50 am

      The children are using colored water. We used liquid water color to color the water but food color would also work.

  • Sue Posted February 10, 2017 11:26 pm

    Love this idea, Deborah. I, too, like the trays you’re using, perfect for this project and others. Care to share where we might find? I also listened to the BAM discussion about blocks and was delighted to hear they’re still recommended for classrooms! If I could only have one toy for my students, blocks would be my pick.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. Posted February 10, 2017 11:32 pm

      I feel exactly the same way Sue. I can’t imagine a classroom without blocks!

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