Color Science and Stories

Warthogs PaintI ain't gonna paintbutterfly butterfly

I’ll admit that this is one of my favorite story times to do.  I get to read one of my absolute favorite books (I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont), and there’s such a wealth of books and activities on color to choose from.  The icing on the cake this time is that I get to do our once-a-session “Science and Stories” time which I created.  Our tagline is “What could be better than story time?  Science and Stories!” and I firmly believe this to be true.  I love science!

The books I planned were “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More,” “Warthogs Paint” by Pamela Duncan Edwards, and “Butterfly, Butterfly” by Petr Horacek, which is a lovely pop-up book.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to read Butterfly, Butterfly because our time was getting short.

I used one flannel, “Dog’s Colorful Day” by Emma Dodd that was created by one of my predecessors, and for my second non-book activity, I told the ipad story “Red in Bed.”

red in bed 2


This is a fantastic little story in which the colors get up for the day, but red is sick.  Red stays in bed while the other colors help out by coloring typically red things (stop signs, strawberries, etc.) in different colors.  This app got a great review on the Digital Storytime blog, and is a lot of fun to both read and play with.

color changing milk

To finish storytime, I did the color changing milk experiment to get the kids excited about all the activities they were getting ready to do.  Then, I explained the different activity stations and let the kids and their parents loose.


Station 1:  Color Scopes (idea from  These are made from toilet paper rolls with colored cellophane rubber-banded to the end.  After the program, these went home with anyone who wanted them.


Station 2: Fingerpaint Mixup  (This idea is all over the internet, but I think I originally got it from  Getting the paint in the bags and keeping it from mixing was tricky!  But, I managed it.  Bags should be stored flat to prevent premature mixing of the colors.  Be sure to tape the opening closed with packing tape to prevent accidental (or intentional) opening.  Amazingly enough, kids also wanted to take this home!

water color ice cubes

Station 3: Watercolor ice cubes (This idea came from a pin on Pinterest that didn’t actually link to a site with this information.  I just figured it out from the picture. If you know the site that the photo originally came from, I will be happy to give the credit.) Fill ice cube trays with water and add a few drops of food coloring.  Carefully cover the tray with press and seal wrap, and then puncture the wrap above each cube space with a knife.  Insert Popsicle sticks and freeze.  Store in bags divided by color, and allow to get a little melty before use in order to get some decent color out of them.  The kids painted on absorbent paper.


Station 4: Absorbing Color (I made this up based on stuff we had around the office.  Sorry there’s no photo.  I was busy, but I’ll try to do better.)  For this activity, I set out trays, Do-A-Dot markers, spray bottles and Dippity Dye paper that we had leftover in our office stash.  In a neat twist, I had children color on the TRAYS, then spray water on the tray and lay the paper on the tray to absorb the color.  It’s almost a magical thing to see the paper change from pristine white to colorful in an instant.

candy color

Station 5: Candy Color (idea from Amy Koester, ALSC)  I used Skittles for this experiment, and because our system doesn’t allow food to be handed out that isn’t given in a package, I told the kids that Skittles are NOT for eating, they’re for SCIENCE!  We only saw one kid sneak one, and that’s pretty good considering we had 26 in attendance!


Normally, I only do four stations, but I just wasn’t sure how the watercolor ice cubes were going to work because I had been less than impressed with my trial run.  So, I added the candy color as an extra.


Lessons learned:

  • Cover all the tables with plastic, even if using trays.  Colors from the various activities got on the white plastic tables, and I ended up having to scrub with Clorox wipes afterwards.
  • Think about disposal!  I had plates full of melted Skittles and nasty colored water to deal with, and a plate of milk.  Fortunately, we had lined trash cans on hand.
  • Have somewhere for papers to dry.  Parents set papers on empty tables that had no coverings, and, once again, I had to scrub them down.
  • After story time, I did the color changing milk experiment for a colleague who hadn’t seen it.  It worked MUCH better.  The only difference was that the milk was warm.  Since no one will be drinking it, go for the warm milk, my friends!
  • Be sure you handle the plate of milk with caution, and move it out of the way of curious fingers quickly.  Nobody wants milk in the carpet.  One of my colleagues was quick to take care of this when I forgot.

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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