Colour Laboratory

Set up a colour laboratory for a morning of measuring, mixing and wet, watery fun…

colour laboratory

I love setting up open-ended activities like this for the hooligans.  This colour laboratory was very easy to pull together, and it didn’t cost me a thing.  It was bright and inviting, and kept the girls busy for over an hour one morning.

kids mixing colours


Setting up your colour laboratory:


supplies for setting up a kid's colour laboratory

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Raid your bathroom and kitchen cupboards and your recycle bin to gather up an assortment of interesting plastic containers and instruments such as:

*white bowls and ice cube trays are best for viewing the changes in water colour

We filled each bottle up with warm water and a drop or two of dish soap.  Then we added a few drops of liquid water colours, and gave it a good shake.

liquid water colours


Liquid water colours are very vibrant, and you only need a few drops to get intense colours.  Wilton Icing Gels are an excellent alternative; a small amount will produce a really rich colour. Liquid food colour will work too.  You’ll just need to add a generous amount if you want intense colours.

Let the fun begin!

squeezing red water from a shampoo bottle into a white container

After colouring the water, the girls were pretty excited, so they quickly donned their aprons, and got started.  They poured, filled, squeezed, scooped, transferred and dumped the water from container to container, ooohing and aaaaahing as the colours changed before their eyes.

pouring, squeezing and transferring coloured water

It looks like child’s play, but there is so much brain and body development happening here.

Little hands are learning how to grasp and carry wet and sometimes heavy containers without spilling or dropping.   Through trial and error, they’re figuring out how to pour just the right amount to fill a container, controlling then slowing and finally stopping the flow.  And they discover what happens when there’s an overflow.pouring purple water

Look at the concentration as this little one lines up the test tubes and transfers water from  one to another, and how she’s managed to hold two test tubes in one hand.

transferring coloured water from one test tube to another

Fine motor skills and strength are required to open lids and to use the syringes and droppers.

fine motor: opening bottles and squeezing droppers

Muscles are challenged as they lift full and manipulate heavy bottles.  As this little one struggled with the green bottle, she huffed and puffed and said “too heavy” several times, but she stuck with it, and was able to line it up, and fill the container underneath it.  Success!

gross motor functions and muscles are challenged lifting heavy bottles

They stirred and whisked the water to revive the dish-soap bubbles,

whisking soap bubbles

and of course they learned about colour mixing…

squeezing water into an ice cube tray

…and wonderfully wet, colourful messes on a late summer day.

pretend play colour laboratory

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Yours in play, Jackie from Happy Hooligans

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