White paper (we folded our papers in half lengthwise to create narrow strips)
White paint, black paint and one other paint color of your choice
Paint tray, old yogurt cups or lids, or something similar for paint mixing
A rag or two in case of spills
Prepare your area by setting down newspapers, setting out your materials, and choosing your paint colors and brushes.
Read Color(Step-By-Step Science) by Robert Snedden and Sabrina Crewe. This is the best kids' book on the science of color that we've found so far. It's got thorough and colorful explanations of different aspects of color, and several color-related activities and experiments, including step-by step directions for making a shade chart.
Squirt two big squirts of your chosen color paint onto your mixing tray.
In the middle of your paper, paint a stripe of your chosen color.
Squeeze a drop or two of white paint into one of your squirts of color, and mix thoroughly. What happens to your color? Paint a stripe of that color onto your paper, to the left of your original color. Mix in a few more drops of white paint. Paint another stripe to the left. Continue mixing in a few more drops of white and painting new stripes until you reach the left edge of your paper.
Now try the same thing in the other squirt of your original color, this time with the black paint. Be careful to start with only one drop of black! Black can quickly overpower your original color, so it's better to start with one drop each time, then add another if you need to. Paint a stripe of that color onto your paper, this time to the right of your original color. Continue mixing in a drop or two of black and painting new stripes of color until you reach the right edge of your paper.
Set aside your shade chart to dry. Try another color! Or make another shade chart by mixing your color with its complementary color (the color opposite your color on the color wheel) instead of using black or white. What happens? What happens if you mix your color with a color adjacent to it on the color wheel?
Color Wheel and Color Mixing at Enchanted Learning
Lesson Plan: Tints, Tones and Shades