Egg Carton Paint Mixing Lesson with a Nature Walk

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a color wheel, colored acetate in the primary colors

Art Materials:

paint, egg cartons (1 per child), brushes, container to mix paints (jug, jar, etc)


  • primary color: any one of the three basic colors of the spectrum from which all other colors can be made by blending. In paint, they are red, yellow, and blue.
  • color: a quality of light as our eyes see it. Light is made up of waves, which hit objects and are reflected from their surfaces. The colors we see depend on how these light waves are reflected. Objects of different colors reflect different kinds of light waves.
  • blend: mix together different elements

Motivation For Lesson:

Start with a discussion about the color wheel and primary colors. After talking with students about the primary colors, ask them about the secondary colors.

“Where do you think green comes from?” “Green is made of two primary colors, which two do you think make green?” Select a student response and demonstrate by overlapping acetate sheets to see if they are right. Once the correct combination is selected, explain the other colors and what they are made of.

To finalize this concept-show students color mixing before their very eyes. Take your container and let students know you are now going to mix two primary colors together to make a secondary color.

“I’m going to put red and blue in my container…what color do you think they will make?”

Let the students guess or vote. Put the top on your container and shake it up so they can see it happen.


Students will paint a “rainbow” within their egg cartons and then collect items in nature to match the colors in each cup.


1. Following the motivation, each student is given an egg carton. The age group dictates the process of painting the cartons. For example, 1st graders would need to be given each color individually, while 5th graders could handle being given 4 colors of paint at once and instructed to paint in 4 cups. This lesson could also be done with marker. Students will paint each egg cup a different color.

Suggested colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, pink, brown, white, black, and peach. There could be other color variations.

2. Egg carton covers could be decorated with a theme, color, or just names done decoratively.

3. Once they are dry, take students on a nature walk to try to find objects to match their cup colors.

Not only are students learning about paint & color mixing, they then get a chance to observe nature and categorize their finds by color.