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Breaking Down Colors Using … Water?

Contributor: Kaitlyn Aston. Lesson ID: 12693

Do you paint with water colors? Mixing water color paints together can make new colors. Once they're mixed, can you get them apart? Learn about primary colors and special paper that separates colors!


Chemistry, Physical Science

learning style
personality style
Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


You may already know that combining the colors red and blue make a purple color, and that green and red make brown. Did you know that this color change is all due to capillary action?

  • Is there a box of crayons in your house?

If so, go ahead and pull them out! Some crayon packs contain colors that have crazy names that you have never heard of, such as “Mango Tango” and “Jazzberry Jam.” There are other colors that you may be more more familiar with, such as purple, orange, and green.

  • Did you know that all of these colors are made of a mixture of other colors?

Even the color purple is made of multiple colors!

  • How do you know this if you are not the one making the crayons?
  • Do you remember the process called capillary action that you learned about in the previous Capillary Action lesson, found under Related Lessons in the right-hand sidebar? Believe it or not, you can use capillary action to see what colors make up purple, pink, and other colors! Let’s join Dr. Z to see what is going on in his lab today!


Capillary action can do some amazing things, such as pulling colors apart! Even though you may think of purple, orange, and green as independent colors, they are actually made up of a mixture of other colors (mainly the primary colors)! As the water was rising up the chromatography paper and pulling the colors apart, capillary action was occurring!

Continue on to the Got It? section for a quick brain check!

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