Did you know that black is not considered a color because it doesn’t have a specific wavelength of visible light? Black is the absence of light. Because of this, black provides a high contrast background that allows colors to stand out.

In this Play Invitation, the colors almost glow and children can explore concepts like contrast, color, light and dark while developing their inferring skills.

What Could Lead Us to This Play Invitation

  • Children have been curious about flashlights and shadows;
  • Children are excited about playing in the dark;
  • Children have been exploring the light table.

Materials Needed

  • Soft pastels
  • Black construction paper

Setting up This Play Invitation

  1. Lay the paper on a table.
  2. Place the pastels within children’s reach.

    Tips: Have a dump towel nearby, because hands get stained by the pastels.

How to Create the Drawing

  1. Invite children to discover and explore the incredible beauty of pastel markings on black paper.
Child holding soft pastels and pressing to make marks on black paper

How to Nurture the Natural Unfolding of the Child’s Identity During This Play Invitation

  • Children have the right to play with black. The educator needs to set aside any prejudices and personal opinions, giving space for children to create their relationships with colors.
  • Children have the right to access diverse materials. Knowing the materials and their characteristics, the educator can propose combinations that best scaffold the child’s exploration.

The Academic Learning Opportunities

  • LANGUAGE: Use language to communicate ideas and explore new vocabulary.
  • PHYSICAL: Develop fine motor skills.
  • SCIENCE: Develop understandings from observations and reasoning — recognize patterns and expect these patterns to recur under similar circumstances (colors over black become vibrant).
  • ART: Build awareness about contrasts and colors, discover a new technique of drawing over black paper.


Distribute black construction paper and hole punches. Invite children to make holes on the paper and place it facing a light source like a window. They can create lines and drawings with the holes.

Books Recommendation

Purchase book here.

Grant Snider’s beautiful debut picture book explores the wonders—and colors—of nighttime. 

Purchase book here.

Swim into Happy where the dazzling fish sparkle against the dark background. A great book to talk about how black makes colors vibrant!