Young children really enjoy this activity but it does require supervision and help.
It gives them an opportunity to explore and experiment with colour, and to see what happens when particular colours are combined.
They’ll get the chance to use their fine motor skills in learning to use an eye dropper. This skill requires a lot of practice to start with, as they co-ordinate their thumbs and fingers. This will be useful later, for writing, drawing and manipulating other tools like scissors and staplers.
Once they’ve mastered using the eye dropper and experimenting with the way the colours flow and mix, they’ll be able to apply their own creativity to the activity.
How to do it
You’ll need something to protect the floor — a plastic sheet or plenty of newspaper, as well as red, yellow and blue food colouring, ice cube trays, an eye dropper and paper towels.
Put some food colouring in some of the sections at one end of the ice cube tray and half fill the other sections with water.
Show them how to use the dropper to move small amounts of colour into the sections containing water. Help them with verbal prompts like ‘Dip, squeeze, hold, move, let go’.
Choose a different colour and use the same prompts ‘Dip, squeeze, hold, move, let go’. The food colouring is dark so they may not notice the colour differences until they are squirted into the sections with the water.
Talk about what colours you can see. When enough experimenting has gone on, use the dropper to carry colour to a paper towel and squirt it there.
Peg the decorated paper towels up somewhere to dry. They can look good taped to a window, with sunlight shining through the colours.