Today we tried out ice cube trays with red, yellow, blue, black, and white each in their own compartment. In small groups, I showed the children how I wash my brush, and wipe it on the side of the water jar, and then get my new color. The ice cube trays also offer an excellent feature : extra compartments for colr mixing, without everything getting all muddled up.
Some children are very big fans of changing the water constantly. No harm done - I think its just like how some people don't like having their hands stay dirty.
I'd like them to experiment with color mixing, too -- I don't want to give them instructions. I think we'll explore color mixing a bit more. But the ice cube trays with the primaries and black and white give them the message that if they want anything other colors, they're going to have to explore and try a bit. And there is only a little paint in each compartment, so if things get muddled up, there isn't much waste.
I don't see this as the be all, end all of painting with tempera. Every child is different, every classroom group is different, and every painting is different. But this is an interesting technique, expecially with a small group. It really felt like a studio time, with every child engaged in mixing and painting -- even those who never choose painting during free choice.
What des painting look like in your classroom? Anything you're trying? Anything you don't like?