Mixing Color with Cars

The children love to use cars, imitate the different sounds of cars, and speak about cars.  We set up a provocation for them with cars. It provided them with paint in primary colors, cars, and a round table with butcher paper to see what they would do. With a Reggio Emilia based curriculum, the learning experience is not organized the same way as a traditional teacher-led classroom where the teacher plans activities ahead of time. The Reggio learning environment is designed in such fashion that the curriculum is developed through the children’s interests.  The expressive arts are heavily integrated into the program to demonstrate cognitive, social, and language development. In this provocation we observed the children’s interest in cars, which led us to pursue their inquiries further by incorporating loose parts materials such as primary colors and paper with the cars.




In this provocation the children automatically began dipping the cars into the paint, pressing down onto them with the butcher paper. As the children did this they used their hands with the car to move the object across the butch paper in circular motions.  This created circles onto the paper and at the same time the children were making sounds of the cars. By doing this, the children sharpened their fine motor skills, demonstrated their knowledge of shapes and practiced dialogue by creating car sounds. According to Martha Giraldo-Rockaway, “If children are placed in an environment that fosters happiness, learning occurs in a very natural way.” Because the children were playing with cars, an object of interest with open-ended materials the children were more attentive to what they were learning and in doing so it felt natural to them –as learning should be.


While the children explored with the cars they realized they were using one color on top of another and were creating secondary colors. They began discussing the colors being made and recognizing which 2 primary colors made a new secondary color. The children not only learned about color theory but they demonstrated their knowledge to create a hypothesis, experiment, and observe the results. Typically one would think that creating a hypothesis, experimenting, and observing results is only relevant to scientific method but each of these skills are in fact quite versatile and can be applied to different contexts. By creating a hypothesis the children were inquiring about the world around them and by playing with the cars and primary colored paints the children explored and observed the different colors the primary colors created. These are necessary skills that the children will continue to use and by practicing these skills at a young age will help them become highly intelligent, insightful, and creative adults in any career.


The children were thrilled to see how the wheels and paint created all these “lines” that they later called “tracks”. It’s very important to note that in these discoveries the children discussed their observations aloud amongst their peers, demonstrating their ability to communicate well with others. In doing so they established vocabulary and developed their social skills even more. The children enjoyed the simple premise that they were allowed to experiment in a way they wanted to. We don’t limit the children to learning one way –we encourage learning in any way possible!

“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes, and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colors.”

-Loris Malaguzzi






Teach Play Based Learning 

Sounds and Colors 



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