Exploring the Spectrum: How Plato's Cubes are both fun and educational

Exploring the Spectrum: How Plato's Cubes are both fun and educational

Welcome to the world of CMY Cubes, where we merge playtime with learning to create a magical experience for children of all ages! Certified by the Good Play Guide, our enchanting Plato's Cubes not only promote fun and education but also offer a tangible way to understand the complexities of colour theory.

In this introduction, we'll explore how these vibrant cubes use the principle of subtractive colour mixing to mesmerise and educate. From curious toddlers to keen pre-teens, Plato's Cubes offer a gradient of learning opportunities tailored to different developmental stages.

As we dive deeper, you'll see how Plato's Cubes are not only about understanding colours but also about developing cognitive skills, enhancing sensory perception, and encouraging educational play. By the end of this journey, you'll see how our Plato's Cubes, with their basis in real scientific principles, exemplify these learning processes in a fun and engaging way. Stay tuned as we unpack the magic behind these colourful educational tools and don't forget to check out our CMY Cube products to further explore and understand colour theory in a tangible way!

How do the amazing colours work?

For 3+ years:

Imagine you have a super special flashlight that shines white light, like sunlight. This light is actually made of all the colours mixed together—like a rainbow!

Now, think about what happens when you play with your coloured Plato's Cubes. Each cube is like a magic colour catcher. If you have a red cube, it catches all the colours except red; it lets red light bounce back to your eyes. That's why you see it as red!

When you start stacking different coloured cubes on top of each other, they start playing a game of catch together. If you put a yellow cube and a blue cube together, the yellow cube catches all the colours except yellow, and the blue cube catches all the colours except blue. But since they are together, they decide to only let green light bounce back, because blue and yellow mixed together make green. So, you see green instead of blue or yellow!

Subtractive colour mixing is like having a set of magic colour catchers that catch different colours and mix them up to show you a new colour that you can see.

Learning about colour creation - The science of subtractive colour mixing. 

For 12+ years: 

Subtractive colour mixing is a way of creating new colours by combining different coloured materials, like paint or ink, and the science behind this is how all the colours we see in nature (or art class) are created. When we mix paint or ink, we think we’re adding more colour, but what we are really doing is taking more colour away, and the same is true in nature (and a CMY Cube). Woah!

So, How Does Subtractive Colour Mixing Work?

Subtractive colour mixing works by removing (subtracting) certain colours from white light. White light is made up of all the colours of the rainbow. The best way of creating these is using 3 very special colours. The CMY colours, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. For now you can think of cyan as light blue, magenta as pink, and yellow as, well, yellow.

When you mix the CMY colours together, each colour absorbs (takes away) some colours of light and reflects others. The colours that are reflected are the ones you see.

Cyan absorbs red, magenta absorbs green, and yellow absorbs blue. But what happens when we start mixing the different CMY colours?

What Happens When You Mix CMY Colours? 

  • Cyan and Magenta: When you mix cyan and magenta, you get blue. Cyan absorbs red, and magenta absorbs green. What they both reflect and do not absorb is blue, so that's what you see.

  • Cyan and Yellow: Mixing cyan and yellow makes green. Cyan absorbs red, and yellow absorbs blue. The colour they both do not absorb and therefore reflect is green.

  • Magenta and Yellow: When you mix magenta and yellow, you get red. Magenta absorbs green, and yellow absorbs blue. The colour left, which is not absorbed by either, is red.

Just like this:

So, Why Does This Matter?

Subtractive colour mixing is important for anything that involves pigments or dyes, like painting and printing. When you print a picture in a book or paint with colours, you're using subtractive colour mixing. Understanding how these colours mix helps you predict what colours you'll get in your final work.

Try It Out

You can experiment with subtractive colour mixing using educational tools like Plato’s Cubes, but also paints, or even coloured cellophane. Mix different colours and see the results for yourself. Notice how mixing the colours changes the colours of light that are reflected and how it impacts what you see.

Here are some of the combinations you can make: 

Mixing and matching colours:

  1. Red and Blue:
    Result: Purple

  2. Yellow and Blue:
    Result: Green

  3. Red and Yellow:
    Result: Orange

  4. Cyan and Yellow:
    Result: Green

  5. Cyan and Red:
    Result: Magenta

  6. Cyan and Magenta:
    Result: Blue

  7. Yellow and Magenta:
    Result: Red

Are there others you can think of? Let’s find out! Now that you know how subtractive colour mixing works, let's put your brains to the test with some fun interactive learning!

Interactive Learning

Free play 

This is designed for all ages, to begin to get an intuitive feel for colour mixing

Aim of the Game: 

To introduce young children to basic colour mixing concepts using Plato's Cubes, demonstrating how different colours combine to create new ones.


1. Introduction to Colours:

  • Begin by showing the children each cube individually, naming the colours as you go.

  • Allow the children to explore and familiarise themselves with the different colours.

2. Two-Colour Mixtures:

  • Pair up the cubes to demonstrate colour mixing.

  • Show the children how looking through two cubes simultaneously creates new colours.

    For example:

    • Red + Blue = Purple

    • Yellow + Blue = Green

    • Red + Yellow = Orange

    • Green + Blue = Cyan

  • Notice how the combination of 2 colours can create colours that already exist in the pack. Look through both of these to compare and explore.

3. Three-Colour Mixtures:

  • Once the children are comfortable with two-colour mixtures, introduce three-colour combinations.

  • Challenge: See if you or your child can create a colour from the pack using 3 or more cubes.

4. Exploration and Experimentation:

  • Allow the children to experiment with different combinations of cubes.

  • Encourage them to create their own colours and observe the results.

  • Discuss with the children how adding more of one colour can change the resulting mixture.

5. Discussion:

  • Engage the children in discussions about what they have learned. Stimulate their memory by asking for specific colours, and observe their creative solutions.

  • Ask open-ended questions about how colours combine and what new colours they can create.


  • Emphasise safety and supervision, especially with small children and small objects like the cubes.

  • Keep the atmosphere fun and interactive to encourage learning through play.

  • Adapt the activities based on the children's age, comprehension, and attention span.

By exploring colours through hands-on experimentation, children can develop a foundational understanding of colour mixing while having fun with Plato's Cubes.

Mystery Colour Mixer 

Now that you have a basic understanding of colour mixing, let’s put that creative brain to the test!


To correctly guess colour combinations that match a randomly selected cube.

Age Group:  

Suitable for children aged 5 and up.

Materials Needed: 

  • Plato's Cubes in Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue, and Purple.

  • A blindfold, or players can close their eyes to pick a colour.


  • Place all Plato's Cubes in a central area accessible to all players.

 How to Play: 

1. Choose the Mystery Colour: One player, without looking, picks a cube from the central pile. This is the 'mystery colour' for that round.

2. Guess and Mix: Players take turns guessing which colours need to be combined to create the mystery colour. They select cubes they believe will match or come close to this colour when combined.

3. Check and Collect: The player checks their colour combination by overlapping the cubes against a light source or a white background. If their combination matches the mystery colour:

  • Correct Guess Using Two Cubes: They keep the mystery cube.

  • Correct Guess Using Three or More Cubes: They keep the cubes they used to make the guess instead of the mystery cube.

Continue the Rounds: The next player picks the next mystery colour. The game continues until no more correct combinations are possible or all cubes are collected.

End of Game: The game ends when players can no longer form correct combinations, or the central pile is depleted. Players count their collected cubes to determine the winner.

Educational Focus: 

  • After each round, discuss why the guessed combination was correct or incorrect. Explain how different colours mix to create new colours and the basic principles of colour theory.

 Additional Rules: 

  • If a player’s guess is incorrect, the mystery cube is returned to the centre for another round.

  • If you like, you may introduce a rule where if players make an incorrect guess, they must return one cube from their collection to the central pile, adding a risk element to their guesses.

This version of Mystery Colour Mixer encourages deeper engagement and learning by challenging children to think critically about colour combinations and rewarding strategic thinking and successful mixing. It’s a fun and interactive way to explore colour theory, enhancing their understanding of how colours interact and blend in a step-by-step way.

Cube Creations Challenge 

Now that you know how colours mix together and why, have some fun building with your cubes!

Aim of the Game: 

Create recognisable objects using your Plato’s Cubes, and have others guess what they are. Points can be awarded for correct guesses.


1. Set Up:

  • Place the Plato’s Cubes in a central pile

  • Choose one player to start as the builder, and another player to be the guesser.

2. Building the Creation:

  • The builder can select a category for their creation if they like (for example animals, vehicles or other fun objects), or go freestyle.

  • Using the cubes, the builder creates a recognisable object that fits the chosen category. They can arrange the cubes in any way they want, using any combination of colours.

  • The builder must keep their creation hidden from the guesser until it's complete.

3. Guessing the Creation:

  • Once the builder has finished their creation, they reveal it to the guesser.

  • The guesser then has a limited time (e.g., 30 seconds) to study the creation and guess what it represents.

  • If the guesser correctly identifies the object, they earn a point.

4. Scoring and Rotation:

  • Keep track of points earned by the guesser on a scoreboard or a piece of paper.

  • After each round, rotate roles so that each player has a chance to be the builder and guesser.

  • The player with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.


  1. Categories: Add different categories to make the game more challenging and diverse. For example, you could have categories like animals, vehicles, food, household items, etc.

  2. Time Limits: Set a time limit for building each creation to add a sense of urgency and challenge.

  3. Team Play: Divide players into teams, with one team member as the builder and the others as guessers. Teams can collaborate to build and guess the creations.

  4. Creative Challenges: Introduce specific challenges, such as using only cubes of a certain colour for a round, or building creations with a limited number of cubes.

Feel free to adjust the rules and variations to suit the preferences and skill levels of the players. Have fun creating and guessing with the  Cube Creations Challenge!

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