This week, the fair was in town, and we decided to combine some investigations into color and color blending with the color wheel and the three primary colors with kinetic spinning merry-go-rounds, since many of the children had been on the rides. Zoe read the story of "The Hungry Mouse" who ate blue blueberries, red berries, orange carrots, green peas, meanwhile dribbling each color all over himself, until he was a big colorful mess. The kids really enjoyed anticipating and shouting out the names of the vegetables and fruits corresponding to each color.
After the story, we brought out two new puppet characters, marionettes: a boy and a black horse. The two puppets talked about going the fair and all the fun they had, and opened the way for us to describe the art project. Zoe gave a little demonstration of how to paint in the segments of the plate, and show how to put different colors on the brush to make the secondary colors: blue and red to make purple, yellow and blue to make green and red and yellow to make orange. The children were so fascinated with the puppets, that we had to put them away so that they would pay attention to Zoe's demonstration. Zoe spoke of different food colors and described the plate as a pizza and each segment became a color of pizza: Melted Butter Pizza, Blueberry Pizza, Orange Carrot Pizza, Green Slime Pizza, Grape Pizza. The children watched attentively while Zoe put two colors on her brush and magically painted a whole new color. She asked them what colors would she need to make green, and got several children's opinions…. all of them usable. When she asked about what she would need to make purple, someone suggested Blue Orange. We suggested trying Red instead of Orange, and got a lovely purple. In fact, we had brought Magenta instead of Red, so that mixing a lovely purple would be easy.
The Spinning Color Wheel plates sat on top of another plate, which was upside down and served as the base. The two were fastened in the middle with ˝ inch paper fasteners, through a hole punched in the center. When the two plates were fastened together, and loosened with a little adult finger manipulation to give it a little play between the two plates, the top color wheel would spin freely, blending the colors into a delicious blur. Some of the youngest children did more abstract designs, and these worked well to produce fascinating spinning patterns. We had reassured the children that they were free to paint outside the lines.
Using paper plates, we sketched light lines to divide the plate top into sixths so the children would have guidelines to put each of the primary and secondary colors in. Several of them were up to the task, and carefully painted red, blue and yellow in the three wedges, and then added the secondary colors next to them, but many of the childrend just loved putting all the colors in magnificent wild patterns. They all loved the spinners, and clutched them happily as they left with their parents a hour or hour and a half later. It was a very successful class, and the children really got a sense of how color blends. They also just loved making themselves a toy to play with.