Colour mixing with food colouring and water

Colour mixing is a great activity for learning about primary and secondary colours as well as fantastic fine motor control practice if children use a dropper or pipette. Once children have made secondary colours they could then experiment by mixing primary and secondary colours to make tertiary colours or try to make as many different shades of one colour as they can.


colour mixing activity


Plastic plates



Food colouring

Pipettes or droppers


Add a small amount of red, yellow and blue food colouring to separate beakers and then top up with a little water.

Use the pipettes or droppers to drop different colours of water onto a plastic plate and record which new colours are created.

colour mixing

Colour Mixing

Why does this work?

Primary colours cannot be created by mixing other colours together. These are:

Red, Yellow and Blue

Secondary colours are made by mixing primary colours.

Yellow + Blue = Green

Red + Yellow = Orange

Blue + Red = Purple

Tertiary colours are made by mixing a primary colour with a secondary colour.

Questions to ask

What do you think would happen if you used a paper plate instead of a plastic plate?

Do you think the colours would still mix if you used filter paper or kitchen roll?

Which colours do you think are warm and which cold colours?

Watch the video

More colour mixing activity ideas

Steve Spangler has a brilliant colour mixing spinning wheel!

Rainy Day Mum has a great mess free colour mixing activity.

How about colour mixing with lights like Teach Beside Me?

Try our easy colour mixing wheel or how about our colour mixing water wall?

We love this colour mixing with ice activity idea too.

This dropper painting activity is lovely from Imagination Tree and the kitchen towel would be great for allowing colours to mix.

Red Ted Art has some lovely colour mixing tissue hearts.

Did you know light can be split into  all the colours of the rainbow? Find out how to make a rainbow here.

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Colour mixing activity ideas

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