Last night, my 3 year old and I read the book Colors for Zena, by Monica Wellington.
While the writing was incredibly basic and repetitive, the illustrations are vibrant and fun and they started a conversation about mixing colors. Since E loves to paint, I figured that this would be the perfect opportunity to let her get her hands dirty, literally, seeing how colors are made.
The concept of the book is that a little girl wakes up to a gray drab world – “Where did all the colors go?” Outside she finds individual colors, but everything is all one color. After two primary colors meet, the next page is a secondary color. When the secondary colors join her and the primary colors, they are able to paint a beautiful picture with all of the colors in the world.
What was wonderful about this is that it was a way to get E excited about primary and secondary colors. She loves “cooking” and mixing food coloring in water and seeing what colors they will make, but I also wanted her to see the colors more vividly using paint. So today, we got down and dirty with our fingers exploring how mixing colors worked.
We started simple with basic primary combinations plus red and white to make pink.
It was a little hard for her to fully mix the colors, so there was some motherly help.
From there I let her pick some additional color combinations – it was hard to explain that mixing any color with black doesn’t get you too much. Orange also tends to mix with anything and make it look brown, but it was fun.
Finally, I figured it was a good use of all that paint to actually do some painting which is another of her favorite things. She seemed to gravitate towards the various greens that we made, but we also had fun finding out that pink and turquoise make a color very close to the paint on her walls.
I’m not usually one to get crafty after reading a book, but that is definitely what this book inspired us to do and from the moment she woke up she kept asking when we were going to start mixing the colors. That to me made the book a success.