Thursday, April 21, 2011

Crazy Messy Fun: A Kaleidoscope of Color

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This is one of my favorite activities to do with my art students. I love that it overlaps in to the properties of motion, reveals a hypnotizing transformation, and has scientific undertones. 

The supplies are simple:

1. Whole milk (lowfat milk works, but not as well).
2. Food dye (or my very favorite art supply - liquid watercolor!)
 3. Liquid detergent (Dawn is the best!)
 4. A Q-tip
5.  A shallow pan or dish (pie tin works great!)
Here is a demo from one of my teaching heroes, Steve Spangler (the other one is Mark Kistler, in case you’re curious):

If you're not in the mood to watch the clip, here's a quick list of directions:
1.Just poor enough milk in the dish to cover the bottom.
2. Add a few drops of food coloring - any colors you fancy!
3. Dip the q-tip into the soap
4. Touch the surface of the milk with the soapy q-tip
5. Enjoy the beautiful kaleidoscope of color!
So fun! This activity is always a big hit during my “Splash of Color” camp session. It’s almost therapeutic as layer after layer of color ripples outward from the q-tip.

Here's what happens when several droplets of soap are scattered over the surface.

And here's one at the end of it's run. A student had begun stirring the milk, creating a grayish tint.

I am a huge advocate for 'good clean fun' because I believe it has such value in a child's development. Of course, I'm a fan of messy fun, loud fun, and crazy fun too, but simple activities like these are teaching tools for your children.  They're not words in a textbook, or pictures on a screen, they are the real and art in motion.


  1. This is so neat!! Just started following your blog and can't wait for more :)

  2. I love this! New follower via Haute Mamas. I had seen something like this, but couldnt remember what needed to be done. This will need to be on our to do list this week with my 2 yr old.