STEM Color Activities: Easy Science Activities to Teach Kids About Color (2023)

3 Easy Color Science Activities for Kids.

Let’s talk color. Color is a great way to introduce kids to science. It’s bright, it’s fun.

And colors are one of the big things you learn when you are a toddler. You start with letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. So kids have a vocabulary in place to recognize what they are working with, and this can boost confidence and willingness to try new activities. Color makes changes very clear to see, which makes them great for STEM activities.

So let’s dive into color. Here are 3 easy color science activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers.

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What's In This Post?

  • How Does Color Work?
    • Light as a Wave
    • How We See Color
    • How Rainbows Work
  • Color STEM Activities for Kids
    • Walking Color Wheel
      • Walking Rainbow Supplies:
      • How To Make A Walking Rainbow:
      • Take it a step farther.
    • Why Is the Sky Blue?
      • Materials to Make a Blue Sky:
      • How To Make a Blue Sky:
    • At Home Color Chromatography
      • Supplies for At Home Color Chromatography:
      • How To Do Coffee Filter Color Chromatography:
  • Keep It Colorful
  • Bonus Color Mixing Activity!
    • Related

How Does Color Work?

Let’s take a moment to talk about howcolor actually works. How do we see it? We see colors because they are in the visible light spectrum.

Light as a Wave

Light is a wave. (And a particle. It’s pretty interesting, but for our purposes, we are thinking of light as a wave.) Think of the waves you see when you drop a penny in a pool. Waves are formed. Some waves are big, some small. Some are fast, others are more spread out.

These differences are the frequencies and wavelengths. Frequency is how quickly a wave moves up and down, and the wavelength is the distance between two peaks in the waves. These differences in light waves are what give us colors.

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How We See Color

Colors each have different frequencies and wavelengths. Reds have a low frequency and high wavelength, while the purples have a high frequency and low wavelength.

What we recognize as the color of an object is actually the wave of light that is reflected by that surface while all other wavelengths are absorbed. So an apple looks red because the surface of it absorbs all colors except red. Red bounces off and is seen by our eyes.

When you see white, what you are actually seeing is all the wavelengths mixed together, all colors are being reflected. Black is when all the wavelengths are absorbed. It is the absence of color.

How Rainbows Work

Rainbows are always seen in the same order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. Remember learning about Roy G. Biv in school? This is why. Colors maintain their wavelengths and are refracted the same way every time, creating rainbows.

The order of the wavelengths do not change, rainbows will always be in this order. If you have Netflix check out a show called StoryBots. They have a great episode that explains all this to kids. This site also has a good visual of the wavelengths of colors.

Bonus fact: Rainbows, as seen from overhead, are actually circles.

More Must Try STEM Activities

Color STEM Activities for Kids

Now we know a bit more about how color works. Let’s try some activities to learn even more. The first one shows kids how colors mix, and it makes the order of rainbows make a little more sense. The second teaches about refracted light and answers an age-old question. And the third introduces chromatography to break complex colors down into their components.

Walking Color Wheel

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This one is great, and we have done it several times in our house. You might remember it from the St. Patrick’s Day post, as it gives a very nice visual rainbow. You can do even more with it, and we are going to make it even more meaningful here by talking about primary and secondary colors.

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Primary colors are colors that can be used to make other colors, and they cannot be made from other colors. These are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are the colors you get from mixing these primary colors.

Remember: Red+Blue=Purple. Red+Yellow=Orange. Blue+Yellow=Green. (This makes sense when you think about the order of a rainbow. Orange is between red and yellow, green between blue and yellow, etc.)

These are the big three to work on with your kids. Let’s make a visual color wheel that shows this in action.

Walking Rainbow Supplies:

  1. 6 plastic cups
  2. Paper Towels
  3. Water
  4. Food Coloring

How To Make A Walking Rainbow:

Set up your cups in a circle with all the cups touching. Fill every other cup with water, about halfway full. Add the red food coloring to one cup of water, blue to the second, and yellow to the third. Cut a rectangle out of the paper towel, about four by one inch. (You’ll need 6 of these total.)

Then take one and place one end in a cup with color and the other end in an empty cup, creating a bridge between cups. Continue until each cup is connected by a paper towel, completing the circle. Now wait.

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You should be able to see the color climbing up the filter bridge. Colors from both sides will mix in the empty cups.

This is a project you need to set up and come back to later. It doesn’t take too long, but it does take some time for the water to move from cup to cup. After some time you will see new colors have appeared in what was once the empty cups!

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While you wait you can ask your children to predict what they think will happen. Will the water make it all the way through the bridge? What colors will we see in the empty cups? This works because red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors that make new colors through addition.

(Video) KIDS Science Activity with COLORS and PAPER TOWELS: Easy, Fun #STEM #kidsplay

There are colors, (magenta, yellow, and cyan) that can be used to create new colors through a subtractive method. This is often done using filters over lights. (Think of filters placed over lights for theatrical performances. Those create a subtractive color experience.) We’ll do that one another time, but it is good to know there are multiple ways to create colors.

Take it a step farther.

Do more mixing by combing the colors even more. What can you make? Older kids can enjoy making their own custom colors.

Use measuring spoons to mix colors using more precise measurements. Write them down and see if you can reproduce them. This is how specific shades of colors are created.

If you want to be even more precise repurpose a syringe from a baby Tylenol bottle. (Just be sure to rinse it well.) These give you more exact amounts and can help you create more subtly different colors.

Why Is the Sky Blue?

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This is a stereotypical little kid question, right? It sounds so simple, yet do we really know why the sky is blue?

It comes down to wavelengths and scattering. Our atmosphere has lots of particles that we can’t see floating around in. (Nitrogen molecules, oxygen, etc.) Light waves from the sun bounce off of these particles. Blue light is scattered most of all, so that is what we see here on earth.

(Fun fact: Purple is actually scattered more than blue, but our eyes are not as sensitive to it as they are blue. So we see the sky as blue.)

Must Try Sensory Activities

At sunrise and sunset, the light is hitting the particles in the atmosphere at different angles, scattering the reds and oranges more. This is how beautiful sunrises and sunsets are created. If you watch closely you might just see a streak of green as the wave scattering moves from being predominately blue to predominantly red. It happens quickly, but it can be seen. Check out this site for more information.

(Video) Color Recognition Activity | STEM for Kids | #shorts

We can demonstrate this blue sky for our kids very easily at home.

Materials to Make a Blue Sky:

  1. A glass of water
  2. Milk or White Soap
  3. Flashlight

How To Make a Blue Sky:

Take a glass mainly full of water. Add about a tablespoon of milk or white soap to create a thin whitish solution. (No jokes about skim milk already being white water here. 😉 ) Take the glass and the flashlight and go into a darkened room.

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Hold the flashlight up to the side of the glass and observe it from the side. You should see a bluish cast from the liquid in the glass. This is the same as how light is scattered through the sky. The blue wavelength is scattered most of all, making it the color we see. This scattering in the sky is called Rayleigh Scattering.

At Home Color Chromatography

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We learned that colors can be created by adding different primary colors together. Markers are a great example of this. For example, the ink in a green marker is made up of yellow and blue inks. We can separate these colors through a method called chromatography.

Chromatography is the separation of a mixture by passing it through a medium in which the components move at different rates.

Two ways of doing this I personally have worked with in my research days are gas chromatography and liquid chromatography. The medium in each of these is of course gas and liquid respectively. There are ways to do this in the lab with complex mixtures. (Let me know if this is something that interests you. I worked with both for years.)

You can do it at home in a more simplified manner, which is a good idea if you don’t want to spend thousands on lab equipment.

We can separate the color components of markers at home using simple materials.

Supplies for At Home Color Chromatography:

  1. Markers
  2. Coffee Filters
  3. Cups of Water

How To Do Coffee Filter Color Chromatography:

Take a coffee filter and draw a circle with a marker around the edge where the flat part moves into the ridged part. Make sure you don’t use permanent markers. Write the color either in the middle of the filter so you remember, or on a post-it you keep with that filter. It can be easy to forget what color you started with.

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Fold the filter in half and then in half again to create a cone. Place this cone in a cup with water so that the tip of the cone touches the water, but the marker ring itself is not in the water. The water will start to travel up the filter.

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What you will see are the different colors that make up the original marker ring separating. Each color travels at its own speed through the filter, which allows us to see the separation. You will see the different components that make up the colors you use! We got some interesting results. If you look closely you can see the different shades that go into making up colors. I highly recommend you try black with your child, you might be surprised at what you see!

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You can add some art to this project too. Once the colors reach the top edge of the filter, pull them out of the water and lay them flat on some paper towels to dry. Once dry you can tie a string around the middle of the filter to create a butterfly. Another option is to shape the filter back into a cone shape and wrap a pipe cleaner around the point to create flowers.

For Older Kids

This is a great activity for older kids as well. Have them try different solvents in the cups instead of water. Compare how the liquids make the colors separate. Some options to try include vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol.

Keep It Colorful

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Color is so much fun for kids, and it is something they are familiar with. This comfort will help make introducing more challenging topics a little easier. Exploring a more artistic side to science can also bring around some more reluctant little scientists.

(Video) 🧫 Science activity: salt, water & food coloring ll preschool activity🧪

There is no rule that says science can’t be pretty. So enjoy the colorful world we live in, and learn more about how those colors work.

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Bonus Color Mixing Activity!

Sometimes you don’t have the time or materials for a big activity, but you still want to work on colors. This activity is perfect for just these times.

Color mixing worksheets!

Print out these worksheets and you have adorable ways to see what happens when different colors combine. You can use crayons, colored pencils, paint, whatever you have around, to add colors together.

Start with the basic circles, mixing colors in known ways. Then you can try the snowmen, caterpillars, chemistry beakers, or ice cream cones. Encourage your kids to try any combination they want. The best way to learn is to try!

What color combos are you going to try first?

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STEM Color Activities: Easy Science Activities to Teach Kids About Color (27)

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(Video) Walking Water Science Experiments for Kids!!!



What are some fun ways to teach colors? ›

Here are a few ideas to try at home or at school.
  • I Spy With My Little Eye. Play a game of I Spy With My Little Eye. ...
  • Colour Collage. Make a colour collage by using paper tearings in only one colour. ...
  • Sorting and Grouping. ...
  • Matching Cards. ...
  • Park the Cars. ...
  • Object Sort. ...
  • Label the Environment. ...
  • Bean Bag Toss.
28 Apr 2022

Is mixing colors a stem activity? ›

These fun color STEM activities are not only pretty, you'll also learn a lot with them. Learn about chromotography, color mixing, chemical reactions and more with these fun experiments. And when you're done learning about color, check out even more fun STEM projects for kids here.

How do you make Colour in science? ›

How Does the Science Experiment Work
  1. Primary colors – Red, Yellow & Blue. These color can be mixed together to make other colors.
  2. Secondary colors – Orange, Purple & Green. These colors are made by mixing two primary colors together.
  3. Tertiary colors – Colors made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.

How can children practice colors? ›

Learn Colors Through Sorting Activities

Have a cup of each color and a few toys in a basket or tray and allow your toddler to put like -with-like. This activity is also a great activity to practice fine motor skills as they learn. You can get super creative setting up activities and sensory bins to work on sorting.

How do you teach colors and shapes? ›

How To Teach Colors and Shapes! - YouTube

What is the Colour of stem? ›

In many vascular plants, stems are pigmented red even though their leaves may be green. Stems may be entirely red, or, more commonly, coloured red only at the basal or at the apical regions of the shoot (Wheldale, 1916).

How do you make Coloured steam? ›

Fill all cups with water (about half full). Put red food coloring in first cup, yellow food coloring in third cup, and blue food coloring in fifth cup. Roll paper towels into strips and put one end in colored water and other into jar next to it. Continue with all six jars.

Are Colours mixed science? ›

Color mixing can be magical! No, better than magic, it's science! The process of observing, hypothesizing, and testing repeats itself over and over again the moment you present children with a little colored water and a few eye droppers.

What 3 colors make all colors? ›

The three additive primary colours are red, green, and blue; this means that, by additively mixing the colours red, green, and blue in varying amounts, almost all other colours can be produced, and, when the three primaries are added together in equal amounts, white is produced.

What color comes from mixing all colors? ›

When all three colors overlap, they blend to make white.

How do you do the walking rainbow experiment? ›

Take a strip of paper towel and fold it until it's 1 to 2 inches wide. Place one end of the paper towel strip into the colored water and the other end into the empty glass. Let them sit for one hour. Return to the glass and observe what happened.

How do you play the color game? ›

The game sequence. Each turn is composed of five steps: To select one coloured peg, the player clicks one of the circles and chooses the desired colour from the table of colours. When a colour is selected (clicked), the circle is replaced by a peg of the desired colour.

When can kids identify colors? ›

Your child's ability to recognize different colors improves around 18 months – the same time he begins to notice similarities and differences in shape, size, and texture. It will be a while longer before he knows basic colors, but most children can name at least one by 36 months.

How do they teach colors in kindergarten? ›

A perfect game to spot colours, when they are old enough (around preschool age), is “I spy.” Play, “I spy with my little eye, something that is… white!” The other person then has to look around at what you can both see, within the room's vicinity, that is white. They keep guessing until they get it right.

What is colour for kids? ›

Color is a way that we describe an object based on the way that it reflects or emits light. Your eye can see different colors because a part of your eye called the retina is sensitive to different wavelengths of light.

What do we do with colours? ›

Here are the top 10 colouring activities that you can get them to indulge in:
  1. Colour Scavenger Hunt. ...
  2. Sort Fruit Loops By Colour. ...
  3. Spray Paint Colours. ...
  4. Sort Buttons. ...
  5. Colourful Egg Cartons. ...
  6. Colourful Play Dough. ...
  7. Changing Colours. ...
  8. Multi-Sensory Baths.
26 Sept 2018

How do early years teach colors? ›

What are some good colour activities for Early Years?
  1. Play a Match the Colours Pairing Game in groups or as individuals. ...
  2. Let children explore colours themselves with colouring sheets and art supplies. ...
  3. Use these Colour Names On Splats as flashcards for all kinds of fun games.

How do you teach the color blue? ›

Color Blue for Kids - Learn the Colors - Colors Songs - YouTube

Why is it important to learn colours? ›

Having a strong knowledge of the different colours comes in useful in many situations that children will become exposed to. Learning these colours allows them to recognise significant visual hues such as red as a code for danger and the meaning behind traffic lights.

How do you teach yellow colors to kindergarten? ›

Color Yellow for Kids - Learn the Colors - Colors Songs - YouTube

How do you teach colors to words? ›

Flashcards and worksheets are good as a concrete way to practice learning color words. Color games and puzzles, on the other hand, are excellent ways to get kids learning about colors and color words through a hand-on, kinesthetic, approach.

How do they teach colors in kindergarten? ›

A simple yet effective kindergarten color activity is to have students practice sorting by color and saying the colors out loud. You can give students a handful of manipulatives, such as pattern blocks, colored cereal, plastic cubes, mini erasers, color links, etc.

How do you teach primary students colors? ›

  1. Introduce the primary colors to your students.
  2. Give your students only red, yellow, and blue watercolor paint, so they aren't tempted to mix up other colors.
  3. Demonstrate how to use the brush to get paint. ...
  4. Give students the supplies and let them begin painting.
15 Oct 2018

How do I teach colors to ESL kids? ›

Start with Flashcards

Hold up each card and say the name of the colour, then ask your ESL students to repeat after together as a class. Once your students have mastered a few different colour words, hold up the cards and ask them to tell you what the colour is.

Why is it important for children to learn about colors? ›

Recognizing the colors and identifying the color names is an important part of a child's development. Early identification of colors helps to create the cognitive link between visual clues and words.

How do I teach my child to spell colors? ›

Learn the Colors | Spell Our Color Words | Colors Song - YouTube

What are the objectives to learning colors? ›

To have knowledge of the names and looks of colors are basic necessities in learning how to view the world around oneself. This can help so many aspects of life ranging from coordinating outfits all the way to pursuing an artistic career.

How do you write a colour lesson plan? ›

Lesson Procedure:
  1. Play "Color Stand Up and Jump" Give out all of the colored papers, 1 color per student. ...
  2. Play "Touch the Colors on Posters" ...
  3. Do "Color the Circles" activity. ...
  4. Play "Point at the Colored Circles" ...
  5. Sing "The Rainbow Song" ...
  6. Read classroom reader "What Color Am I?" ...
  7. Do "Colors of the Rainbow" worksheet.

How do you explain color? ›

Color is perception. Our eyes see something (the sky, for example), and data sent from our eyes to our brains tells us it's a certain color (blue). Objects reflect light in different combinations of wavelengths. Our brains pick up on those wavelength combinations and translate them into the phenomenon we call color.

How can I teach my 4 year old colors? ›

In today's post, I am sharing 9 ways you can teach your toddler the colors!
  1. #1. Focus on one color at a time.
  2. #2. Sort objects by color.
  3. #3. Play with color learning toys.
  4. #4. Break out those art supplies!
  5. #6. Point out colors that you see!
  6. #8. Read color learning books.

What colour is science? ›

What Color is Science? Science, which includes classes like chemistry, biology, and physics, is almost always green. That is the one subject that everyone seems to universally agree on. Science discusses so many biological processes and elements that make people think of the color green.

What order should I teach colors? ›

For example, choose to teach your child red and green first. Whenever you see anything red or green, point it out. Give them only red and green objects at certain playtimes.

What is primary colour in basic science? ›

Primary colours are basic colours that can be mixed together to produce other colours. They are usually considered to be red, yellow, blue, and sometimes green.

How do you introduce the color blue? ›

Begin teaching your child the basic colors first, such as blue. Show your child a flash card with the color blue. Say the color and ask your child to repeat after you. Have objects near you that are blue so you can point to the flash card and then point to the blue object.

What are the main primary colors? ›

Three Primary Colors (Ps): Red, Yellow, Blue. Three Secondary Colors (S'): Orange, Green, Violet. Six Tertiary Colors (Ts): Red-Orange, Yellow-Orange, Yellow-Green, Blue-Green, Blue-Violet, Red-Violet, which are formed by mixing a primary with a secondary.

How do you teach colors in Grade R? ›

An easy way to help learn colour is by association. Teach your child “as green as grass” and “as blue as the sky” – then she knows that green is the colour of grass and blue is the colour of the sky. Play “I spy with my little eye” with colour as the main clue.


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