Color Mixing for Kids & Colorful Heart Valentines
Kids Arts and Crafts Activities Painting

A Lesson in Mixing Colors for Kids & Colorful Heart Valentines

Color Mixing For Kids and Colorful Heart Valentines
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Post by Amy Broadmoore

If you would like to encourage your children to mix paint colors, then Color Dance by Ann Jonas is the book for you.

Color Dance teaches children that they can mix red and yellow to make orange. And that by varying the amounts of red and yellow they can make “vermillion” (a shade between red and orange) and “marigold” (a shade between orange and yellow).*

Furthermore, Color Dance teaches children to make pale colors, by adding white, and dark colors, by adding grey or black.

Mixing Colors for Kids

Color Dance has been a hit with both my 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son.

In Color Dance, Ann Jonas successfully combines two of my daughter’s favorite subjects: dance and art. My son has enjoyed discovering that a wide spectrum of colors exists beyond red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.

Color Dance

While reading Color Dance has piqued my kids’ interest in mixing colors, it goes without saying that reading about mixing colors alone, will not turn my kids into confident painters. To become confident painters, kids must also have the opportunity to paint.

Mixing colors of paint

Tips for Mixing Colors 

▪     Let children mix their own paints. Yes, some days my kids spend 80% of their time mixing colors and only 20% of their time painting. I consider the time spent mixing paints to be just as valuable as the time spent painting.

▪     Only offer children red, yellow, blue, white, and black paints. Children can and will learn to mix all of the other colors they want to paint with.

▪     Offer children progressively more complex painting experiences. Give children the opportunity to paint with a single color before offering them two. Give children the opportunity to paint with two colors at a time (red and yellow, red and blue, yellow and blue, etc.) before offering them three. (This third tip comes from Susan Striker, author of Young at Art.)

Color Mixing For Kids

Making these homemade painted valentines was a great way to encourage my kids to experiment with mixing pale colors.

Color Mixing For Kids and Colorful Heart Valentines

How We Made Our Colorful Heart Valentines 



  • To make our homemade painted valentines, we cut out a heart template.
  • Then we traced two hearts on each sheet of 8 ½ by 11 inch, thick (90 lb.) white paper.
  • Next, we cut out the hearts.
  • I offered the kids a bottle of white tempera paint, a bottle of red tempera paint, and a few empty bowls.

Teaching Children How to Mix Paints

Mixing Colors for Kids at Different Ages


For my 2-year-old, painting with red and white was sufficiently complex to engage him for quite some time. He is still learning the mechanics of painting and learns quite a bit from painting with one color at a time.

My 2-year-old is not yet old enough to premix colors. Instead, I offered him one bowl of white paint and one bowl of red paint and let him go to town.

It was fun to watch him mix and play with the paint. He clearly enjoyed the process. Nearly every one of his hearts was covered with a thick layer of dark pink paint by the time he was finished.


My 4-year-old mixed primary colors to make secondary colors before, but this was one of her first opportunities to add white paint to create pale colors. It was good to begin by offering her only two colors.

She discovered that only a little red paint went a long way and that she could create various shades of pink by varying the amount of red she added to the white.

After painting a couple hearts with red and white, she asked for blue. Suddenly, with only one more bottle of paint at her disposal, she could create blue, pale blue, purple, and lavender.

School Age

My 7-year-old is experienced at mixing paint, with some experience mixing pale colors. When he decided to join his brother and sister, he whipped off his shirt and exclaimed “I need more colors!” Thus, he began with four bottles of tempera paint: red, yellow, blue and white.

Usually he decides which color he is going to mix and then mixes it. Occasionally he adds colors without thinking, stirs, and watches what happens. He works hard to mix just the right shades of “light red” (he wanted to avoid pink) and “gold” (he wanted a color more spectacular than yellow).

As the kids painted their hearts, it was fun to watch them experiment and become more adept at mixing paint colors.

To complete their homemade painted Valentines, the kids will write notes on each, attach a little something – heart-shaped bubble blowers – and voila!

*[i.e. Color Dance introduces kids to mixing tertiary colors as well as secondary colors, without mentioning these terms.]

More Color Mixing for Kids

More Book Recommendations

About the author

Amy Broadmoore

Amy Broadmoore is a mother of three young children ages seven, four and two. She spends her time teaching and learning from her children, running, and searching for great picture books. She compiles booklists about a variety of themes (e.g. birds, dance and friendship) and shares them at Delightful Children’s Books.

Mixing Colors for Kids & Colorful Heart Valentines
A Lesson in Mixing Colors for Kids & Colorful Heart Valentines


  • Reply
    February 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Those hearts came out so good! And thanks for dividing up what you did with each age!! Very thoughtful post and I already checked out her website which is awesome too!

  • Reply
    Justine Ickes
    February 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Great post, Amy. I’ve always been a bit dismayed — yes, I know I should just let creativity reign and not make judgments :-) — when my kids have done any kind of painting because, invariably, everything ends up brown. Now, thanks to your post, I have a strategy for avoiding that. Even better, they’ll get practice mixing their own colors. Cool!

  • Reply
    February 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Thanks, Dena! I appreciate the comment.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Thank you, Jean! Thanks so much for letting me share this space with you. We get lots of fantastic ideas for art projects from your site. I love how the Valentines match The Artful Parent banner.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Absolutely! I have not had the kids paint with standard watercolor sets much b/c the kids end up mixing all of the colors together into a muddy mess. I just recently ordered liquid watercolors (recommended here at The Artful Parent) and am excited to use the same approach I have used with tempera paints to have the kids experiment with the liquid watercolors.

  • Reply
    Jean Van't Hul
    February 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Thank you, Amy! What a wonderful post on color mixing! I love how the valentine’s turned out, too!

  • Reply
    Melissa @ the chocolate muffin tree
    February 3, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Great activity and love this book! I used it when teaching color mixing as an art teacher.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for this post! My 4 kids have to make 120 Valentines between all of them so this helps alot! I have a 23 month old, twins that are 5 and a 4 yr. old so this will be lots of fun! I can’t wait to get them started!

  • Reply
    February 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    I was surprised by how quickly my kids made enough of these Valentine’s for all of their classmates. They enthusiastically painted stacks of them in two sittings.

  • Reply
    February 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Although 120 Valentine’s is a lot! Good luck, and I hope you have fun!

  • Reply
    Anna Cleanthous
    June 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Are you currently accepting guest posts on website ?
    My name is Anna Cleanthous and I am a freelance writer to help them reach new audiences online by developing content partnerships with good quality blogs and websites like yours.
    I would like to stress that the article itself will not be self-promotional – I strive to ensure each piece I write is unique, written exclusively for your website and offers value to your audience.
    If you are happy for me to do so, then I will include a reference to my client in the byline so that your readers can find out more if they wish.
    Does this sound like something you would be interested in?
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  • Reply
    Tania Panozzo
    September 16, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Gorgeous idea Amy, but where did you source the heart-shaped bubble blowers?

  • Reply
    January 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    How do you have children mix colors without wasting a lot of paint? Could you give me some guidance as how you go about teaching the mixing process. I know if I set this out with my children they would just keep mixing until the bottles of paint were empty. Thanks for any help you could offer me.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2020 at 4:48 am

    n Holland because of my speed but what I’m most proud about is my technical ability.

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