September 24th, 2020
This experiment is a wonderful introduction to color mixing for preschool age children.
STEP 1: Get Your Supplies!
- 6 small transparent cups or jars
- Paper towels
- Food coloring (liquid preferred)
Before beginning, make sure that you have all the supplies at hand. Setting the experiment up beforehand definitely makes it easier and less messy.
STEP 2: Preparing Your Cups (or Jars)!
I used small transparent cups for my video, but go with your own preference. Take 3 of your cups (or jars) and fill them about ¾ full with water. In each cup, you’re going to add a few drops of food coloring: yellow in 1 cup, blue in another, and red in the last cup. (For the purposes of the video, I had premixed my colored water and simply poured them into the designated cups.)
*Note: I used a gel food coloring because it’s what I had on hand. While this worked for the purposes of the experiment, you have to mix it a lot to get all of the gel to dissolve; otherwise, you’ll have remnants of the gel congealing on the bottom of your cups. Liquid food coloring would be preferred.
STEP 3: Setting Up Your Cups!
You now have 3 cups of colored water (yellow, blue, and red) and 3 empty cups. You’re going to place all 6 of your cups in a circle, alternating them so you have an empty cup between your cups of colored water.
BONUS STEP: Make Predictions!
This is where you can take a moment before beginning the experiment to ask your toddler or preschooler what they think will happen once you add the paper towels. An aspect of this experiment is the water walking, but what happens when the different colored waters start to combine?
The website provided a water walking activity sheet where your child can color in the different cups to make their predictions.
STEP 5: Add Your Paper Towels!
Now, you can prepare your paper towels. Take 6 paper towels and fold each of them in half, and, then, fold them in half once more. You want to have created 6 long strips with the paper towels. Once you’ve done this step, it’s time for the fun to begin!
Take each long strip and dip one end into one of the cups of colored water and put the other end into the empty cup beside it. Think of it as creating bridges from one cup to the next.
STEP 6: Rainbow Water Walking!
This is the culmination of the experiment! You can watch as the colored water begins to “walk” up the paper towel strips. This process starts really quickly, but it will slow down as the water begins to round the peak of your paper towels. If you leave the experiment overnight and come back to it in the morning, you’ll find that the empty cups are now filled with colored water – the primary colors will have combined to create the secondary colors!