Art Equals Science Paint Solubility Project for Kids

In need of some quick and easy projects?  I always am!  This is a creative science & art project that takes just a minute to set up and teaches kids about some basic science principles. Simply lay out watercolors, oil pastels, water & oil and let their creative learning begin.  This post contains affiliate links.

Combine art and science in this Five Minute Craft that teaches kids about paint solubility.

Paint Solubility Supplies Needed

The Color Experiment

First lay out the watercolors and oil pastels along with the water and baby oil. Oh and paper, too. Be sure to put the oil and water in similar containers so they don’t think they are different. Also, I used baby oil because it’s a little less obvious than vegetable oil because it’s really clear. Then don’t give them any instructions at all! Nada. Just step back and watch the kiddos experiment. If you want, you could have them make a hypothesis about what will happen before they start.


After they’ve experimented for a little bit, start asking them some questions. A side-by-side experiment might help them communicate what’s happening. I asked:

  • What happened when you used the different liquids on the different paints?
  • What do you think is in the jars?
  • Why do you think they behaved differently?

Oil and Water Solubility Test Left Brain Craft Brain

I think what happened literally blew my 4 year old daughter’s mind.  Yes, art can be exciting!! Especially when you add science to the mix.

Art is Exciting Left Brain Craft Brain

The Science of Paint Solubility

So what’s happening? There are a few science principles going on in this creative experiment. The first is solubility.  The binder that turns pigment into cake watercolors is water soluble, i.e. when you add water, it turns into a solution. The second is dispersion. Once the binder has dissolved into the water, the pigments can float around in the water, mix and let you paint them onto the paper.

Your kiddo probably noticed that when she first drew with the oil pastel and then painted over it with watercolors, the watercolors didn’t stick.  That’s because the oil pastels are hydrophobic (water-hating or repelling) and will prevent the watercolors from absorbing into the paper.  This makes for a really fun color resist project. My daughter loved it! And because it was interesting, she was very prolific with her paintings. And I had a little creative outlet by her side too :)

Painting in Progress 2 Left Brain Craft Brain

Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, and Math Fun for Kids

Looking for some more STEAM inspiration that use can use right now? Instant gratification style? Check out STEAM Kids: 50+ Hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math Hands-On Projects for Kids ebook! It’s packed full of a year’s worth fun learning activities that will wow the boredom right out of your kids.

Everything You Need for This Project!

Here’s what we used in this art = science project.

Combine art and science in this Five Minute Craft that teaches kids about paint solubility.

6 thoughts on “Art Equals Science Paint Solubility Project for Kids”

  1. Deborah Crossley

    Terrific Ideas and projects for my Grand kids and Great Grand kids. They can have hours of great fun and brain stimulation with these great ideas and projects. Thank you.

    1. leftbraincraftbrain

      Have you tried Goo Gone? That stuff is amazing. But be sure to give the cutters a really good wash afterwards.

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