Inquiry-based tempera paint provocation for young children: All the shades of blue

“Encounters between children and materials are generally extremely rich in suggestive qualities, memories and meanings, without much intervention on part of the teacher”

Vea Vecchi

When I first introduce liquid tempera paint to young children I usually offer just one or two primary colours and white. If I provide all three primary colours we very quickly arrive at brown and brown always feels very final, its rather hard to undo.

Offering blue, white and black and a 12 case muffin tin and collection of brushes is my all time favourite tempera paint provocation, it never gets old. I feel like blue holds so much potential, where as red will eventually resign itself to pink and yellow gradually becomes invisible against the backdrop of white. Blue is a colour that has many identities, its the bright hue of a summer morning, the dark almost black blue of late evening, the grey-blue that threatens rain or the deep blue of an impenetrable ocean.

Mummy, it’s blue. it’s the sea. the wind blows the boats. its the ocean. whoosh whoosh.

Althea, aged 3.5 as she paints shades of blue on to her paper

Blue mixes beautifully on the palette and the page and it sparks the imagination in a way that, I believe, no other colour does.

This week I added some reusable sauce bottles to our atelier so that I can decanter small quantities of paint into them for independent colour mixing.

Althea was able to experiment with different quantities of blue, white and black to alter the shade.

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