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Mixing sidewalk paint.

Mix water, food coloring, and flour to make sidewalk paint. I was inspired by my kids’ “color equations” and a recipe for sidewalk chalk paint. Why not get them to actually mix color?


- Food coloring (red, yellow, blue),
- a tablespoon,
- water, 
- cornstarch (or flour), 
- 6 small bowls (~4 to 5oz), 
- 2 or 3 large bowls (~24oz),
- paintbrushes.

What to do: Before you start, get your children to wear their least favorite shirt and shorts. Food coloring stains. It is washable but why take the risk? 

1) Fill two of the large bowls with water, then add a color to the first one and a different color to the second one (we started with red and blue).
2) Now fill the small bowls: 
- put one Tbsp of red and one Tbsp of blue in a bowl
- put two Tbsps of red and one Tbsp of blue in a second bowl
- put three Tbsps of red and one Tbsp of blue in a third bowl, etc. 

You can mix in whatever proportion you like. 

3) Look at the colors. Then put a Tbsp (or more) of cornstarch in each bowl to make "paint" and bring out the colors. 
4) Paint!

How it went

They had fun seeing the different shades of purple appear. I asked what would happen if we did 2 Tbsps of red and 2 Tbsps of blue (and 2 Tbsps of cornstarch) and there was really not response. We did it and, of course, the color turned out to be different from the 1 Tbsp red – 1Tbsp blue because you can’t count on kids to measure that precisely. I didn’t talk about ratio or proportion at all but it is a possible extension.

It takes about 20-30 min for each pair of primary colors so it is a good long Sunday afternoon activity if you are doing all 3 pairs. With red and yellow, the red was overpowering (which I think is well known among painters).

I really liked the yellow and blue combinations. My kids love teal, so we added a little bit of red to obtain the bottom right “teal” color. They also wanted to mix 1Tbsp red, 1 Tbsp blue, 1 Tbsp yellow and it gave the top left color on the “greens” tray. Unsurprisingly, it was named “poop green”.

Our front steps ended up with dots of green “paint” everywhere.

This is how it looks when dried. Not as colorful as other websites, but it does look like chalk – let’s hope it washes out! (I will update in a couple of days!)

Update: It has rained three times since we painted the sidewalk. The colors are gone, we can still see some faint white marks where the drawings were. It does take longer to erase than chalk.


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