Young girl is reading Dr. Seuss' "Hop on Pop"

Story Time - Mouse Paint

Activity 1: Walking Rainbow

In our last story time, we learned the different colors of a rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, indigo and violet. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch a rainbow form right before your eyes? In Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh, the mice taught us that when you mix primary colors together (blue, yellow and red) you can make secondary colors (green, orange and purple.) Blue and yellow make green, yellow and red make orange, and blue and red make purple. Create your own two-day rainbow with primary and secondary colors with the instructions below.


  • 6 clear plastic cups
  • Tap water
  • Red, yellow and blue food dye
  • 6 paper towels
Materials for making a walking rainbow

Step 1: Find a flat surface, such as a table or counter, where you can do this project and gather all the required materials.

Step 2: Line up your plastic cups or place them in a circle so that their sides are touching on the table.

Cups of water with food dye

Step 3: Fill every other cup halfway with water.

Step 4: In one of the cups with water, add in a few drops of the red food dye. In the next add the yellow dye and finally the blue. (Dye only goes into the cups with water.)

Paper towels inside cups of water with food dye

Step 5: Roll each paper towel into a long thin strip- you will have six. Dip one end of a paper towel into the cup with water, and the other into the empty cup next to it. Repeat until all cups have paper towel arches.

Paper towels soaked with color from food dye

Step 6: Wait and see! Keep checking your “walking rainbow” to see how the colors seep into the fibers of the paper towel. It may take up to two days for our rainbow to be fully visible, so this rainbow requires patience.

Activity 2: Mouse Paint Paintings

Paintings made with cotton balls and Q-tips

The mice in our story didn’t need a paintbrush to create colors with their mouse paint. They used their feet, their tails and even their whole bodies to paint and mix colors. Painting doesn’t require brushes to be creative or fun. You can use all types of things to create different textures, thickness and designs. Sponges, cotton balls and Q-tips are a fun way to paint without brushes. Follow the steps below for to create your own Mouse Paint-inspired masterpieces.


  • Cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • Any other materials you have in your home that you could use to apply paint
  • Paper (the thicker the better)
  • Any paint you have on hand (blue, red and yellow paint work well for this activity)
  • Paper plate for mixing colors

Step 1: Find a flat surface, such as a table, where you can do this project.

Step 2: Pour out three puddles of paint onto your paper plate.

Step 3: Using a cotton ball or Q-tip, dip into one of the primary colors and blob it onto your paper.

Step 4: Experiment with color mixing by mixing your colors together on the plate, or in your painting.

Step 5: Use different movements and apply different amounts of pressure to experiment with different textures. Does your painting look slippery smooth? Does your painting look spotty and blotchy? What movement can you see in your painting? Is that the pitter patter of mouse feet?