Today I taught the Georgia O'Keeffe lesson again, but this group is with me for almost two hours, so I was able to fit in some color mixing! First I asked them what creative color names they've heard of. Next time I'll bring in a catalog. From clothes to paint to furniture and carpet, catalogs list some very creative color names. One of my students chimed in right away, "last night I was looking at a catalog and they called the brown color 'chocolate'. I was thinking they probably did that because 'chocolate' sounds much nicer than 'brown'". Yep, she knew exactly what I was getting at!
I started by giving them a plate with the primary colors and white. I don't use black in color mixing activities. I let them mix any color they wanted. Then I asked them to paint a small sample of that color on the paper. It was a lot of fun because it was their own color, and there were no right or wrong answers. I would much rather have students discover for themselves that blue and yellow make green. I can't believe I actually used to tell my students this without letting them find out on their own! When all the colors are mixed together, they turn out brown or gray. That result is great for this project.
After the students had a few samples on their paper, we tried to think of creative names for the colors. I encouraged them to used emotions, concepts, or time of day to name their colors. We spent a lot of time sharing a talking about the colors we made.
I was surprised by how much the students liked this project and by how much time they spent on it. I've been thinking of other ways to use this. Each kid could pull a color name out of a bag (like peaceful night, icy breeze, melancholy, fire, laughter) and find any color they want to match that name.
Another thing I'd like to do is to make a game out of it. I would have each student mix one color. Then they would trade colors and each student would try to re-create the color his or her classmate had made. I would probably limit the palette to two colors until the students seemed comfortable, and would increase the number in later games.