How to Use Skittles to Explore Primary Colors and Secondary Colors

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about the different ways you can use Skittles to teach some basic math skills such as counting, sorting, and graphing. Did you know you can use Skittles to teach some basic art concepts too? Skittles can be used to teach children about primary colors and how to combine them to make secondary colors. Keep reading to learn how!

Students will use different colored Skittles to explore mixing primary colors to make secondary colors. Free STEM activity printable in the blog post.

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.



What are primary and secondary colors?

Primary colors (or primary colours) are the three colors that can be combined to make different colors. Red, blue, yellow are primary colors.

Secondary colors are colors made from combining two primary colors. Orange, green, and purple are secondary colors.

Unsorted Skittles on white plate

What happens when we mix primary colors?

This STEAM experiment... STEAM = STEM + Art... gives students an opportunity to explore what happens when they combine different colored Skittles. Specifically, they will be  exploring what happens when they mix: 
  • red + yellow
  • red + blue
  • blue + yellow

Red, yellow, and blue Skittles on a white plate

Materials Needed

There are very few materials needed for this STEAM / STEM activity. These materials can be purchased inexpensively at a grocery store.
  • red, yellow, and blue Skittles
  • little cups or bowls (I used a deviled egg tray.)
  • spoon or stirring stick
  • water
  • optional: experiment record sheet below


Red, yellow, blue Skittles soaking in water

Directions

  1. Open the bag of Skittles and pull out the red, yellow, and blue pieces. You can eat the other colors or save them for another day.
  2. Sort the red, yellow, and blue Skittles by color.
  3. Combine some red and yellow Skittles in one cup, some red and blue Skittles in another cup, and some yellow and blue Skittles in a third cup.
  4. Add a small amount of water to each cup and stir gently. 
  5. Observe. What is happening to the water?
  6. Experiment with adding more red, yellow, and blue Skittles in the cups. How do the colors change?
  7. If your students start combining primary and secondary colors, don't panic. Turn their exploration into a minilesson about tertiary colors... colors such as green-yellow, blue-violet, yellow-orange, etc.
  8. Note: If the Skittles remain in the water for too long, the white candy on the inside will start to dissolve and change the color and texture of the water. If this happens, you can turn this into a minilesson too... how do the white candy pieces change the water?

Water is changing colors because of the Skittles.

Results

If your students combined their Skittles properly, they should get the following results:
  • red + yellow = orange
  • red + blue = purple
  • blue + yellow = green

When your students complete this STEM activity, they can record their results on the printable below.

Primary Colors and Secondary Colors (c) Kelly Wilson, Kelly's Classroom Online
 
To download a FREE copy of this printable, (one page in all), please click on the image above. Clicking this image will take you to the Teachers-Pay-Teachers third-party website. This is a FREE download-- no purchase necessary.

Taste the Rainbow. Skittles Art.


Did you enjoy this STEM / STEAM experiment? If so, check out these blog posts for more STEM activities:



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