Mixing 100 Colors

Today was our 100th Day of School, so to help our 2nd graders celebrate, I decided to challenge them to mix 100 different colors!  I made a grid for students to paint over, consisting of 10 rows of 10 very light gray squares with a little white space in between.  I didn’t want to see harsh outlines around the colors and this worked well to give them a structure to paint over while allowing the colors themselves to “steal the show”!  Then I made copies on card stock and gave my students their challenge….

  • Newspaper to cover desk
  • 8.5″ x 11″ card stock, printed with a grid of 100 light gray squares (download the free pdf of my Color Mixing Squares template)
  • Paper plate
  • Tempera paint: red, yellow, turquoise, black, and white
  • Paint brush
The “Rules”:
1.  Colors must be mixed… no using them straight out of the bottle!
2.  Leave a little white space around each color.
     and most importantly…..
3.  No washing your brush!  To clean your brush, simply wipe it on the newspaper.

I’m on a kick of painting without water these days, and the colors that kids are mixing are just incredible, thanks to that small amount of color that gets left in their brush!  (This technique only applies to liquid tempera paint, and not watercolor, of course!)

Out of 25 students, only 6 completely finished by the end of our 50 minute period, but others were close.  This was definitely challenging for 2nd grade, but they LOVED it and I think it will change the way they approach color mixing forever!  A very FUN project…. trying it again tomorrow with 4th grade…. using hearts!

Color Mixing Squares template

Color Mixing Squares template

, ,

32 Responses to Mixing 100 Colors

  1. Hope Hunter Knight February 8, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    wow- i love this!!!

  2. Mrs. Coughlin February 8, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    how fun! i'm sure the kids loved this! they look awesome!

  3. Christie - Fine Lines February 8, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Great idea!!

  4. Katie February 8, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    BEAUTIFUL! These would look beautiful framed. Simple yet effective.

  5. Katja February 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    Génial !

  6. jyothisethu February 8, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    beautiful idea…

  7. Miss Foote February 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    Amazing! I love this! Our 100th day will be on Leap Day, so I am thinking this should be on the agenda….so pinning and I am your newest follower.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  8. Hannah- Art.Paper.Scissors.Glue! February 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

    these are BEE YOU TEE FUL!

  9. create*make*smile February 8, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    This is such a great idea! Can you share with us how you would assess a project like this? I love all your projects you share. Thanks so much!

  10. Sleepyhead Designs Studio February 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Great idea and produced a cute piece of art! Kids always love when they get to create their own colors!

  11. TeachKidsArt February 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    Thanks for all your great comments! Regarding assessing a project like this, I would do that with a rubric and pick about 4 things to evaluate, tying it into the standards for that grade level. Fortunately, I don't have to grade artwork for K-5, so I can assess more informally, based on how well students followed directions… for this project: did they mix lots of new colors? (or mostly browns!), did they leave white space around each one?, did they fill the page?, and was their project carefully done? (craftsmanship!). I hope that helps! :)

  12. Miss February 9, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    These are so gorgeous- so fresh and contemporary. Thanks for sharing!

  13. claudia February 21, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Hello !!
    First of all, Thank you so much for all those great projects you share with us :)

    Yesterday we did that challenge,,,my boy had lots of fun doing it. I posted the project on my blog and linked back to your, hope its ok with you…

    You are more than welcome to take a look.

    Have a very nice day !!
    Claudia :)

  14. tatjana February 22, 2012 at 6:47 am #

    I love this project!! Color mixing with a purpose;
    open ended, process oriented and beautiful.
    I'm going to have my kids try this, and then I will use it as a warm up for a future painting class.

  15. sweet and lovely crafts February 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    This is so awesome. I'm going to attempt this with my four year old! I'll let you know how it turns out.

  16. Kris W February 27, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    This looks like a ton of fun! I missed doing it for our 100th day this year (I found this post afterwards) but I will add to my to-do list next year for sure!

    I saw you mentioned a grid you made on Apple's program “Pages”, but I don't have access to that. Is there any chance you can/would be willing to save your grid as a PDF and post this to your blog as well? Or do you have suggestions for another program to use?

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge August 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

      I was finally able to add a downloadable pdf to this post. Hope you can still use it!

  17. Art Project Girl March 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    This is so much fun. I couldn't do it with my kids this year but I hope to one year! I just had a feeling they wouldn't be able to sustain their focus after number 10.

    I really should make it a station though for the END of the school year when we do stations. . . maybe a collaborative how many colors can we make from the primaries white and black?

  18. TeachKidsArt March 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Erica, I wasn't sure my 2nd graders could focus long enough for this, either, but they totally ate it up! We ran out of time before they lost interest! You should give it a try… they might surprise you!! :)

  19. Hannah- Art.Paper.Scissors.Glue! March 10, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I did this with my third graders and they LOVED it. It actually took two whole classes, some two and a half, and each day they looked forward to doing it! Thanks again : )

  20. Paintedpaper March 15, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Love this! Thanks for sharing! :)

  21. tishalou April 15, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    how did you dispense the color to them – I see you used paper plates – what did they start out with ROY G BIV?
    love this idea – thanks!

  22. Felicity April 19, 2012 at 3:10 am #

    SO gorgeous – I'm going to have some fun playing with this on the weekend.

    I may even do it with children – kidding!

    Happy day!

  23. TeachKidsArt April 23, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

    Tishalou, I just gave them a small amount (quarter size) of the primaries (red, yellow and turquoise) plus black and white. I like to have kids mix their own colors whenever possible!

  24. ann February 17, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    I love this ideas. It would be beautiful put in a black frame.

  25. jessica July 18, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    I like your grid. We used tape and watercolors back when we did this in 2010! I love how random the kiddos paint. I would get too patterny.
    jessica recently posted..foil tape resist rainbowsMy Profile

  26. Concaimom January 7, 2015 at 2:25 am #

    Loved this! I have a 4th grader, & w/Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I was wondering where to access the heart-shaped grid you spoke of, if possible.??

    • Cheryl Trowbridge January 7, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

      You can use the same grid template for painting the hearts, but the edges of the squares will show. So I made a similar template for painting the hearts, using small dots instead of squares, which are easier to cover with a heart shape. I’ll post that template soon… in time for making Valentines! That project was a little more challenging, but most of my 4th graders did really well with it!


  1. 10 Fun Things for the Week of September 2 « Ten Fun Things - September 2, 2012

    […] 9. Have fun mixing colors […]

  2. Valentine Color Mixing - Paint 100 Hearts! | TeachKidsArt - January 20, 2015

    […] Day of School’) just around the cor­ner, I thought I’d post this heart-themed ver­sion of my ‘Mix­ing 100 Col­ors’ les­son! Mix­ing the col­ors and then paint­ing hearts requires a lit­tle longer atten­tion […]