Why purchase pre-mixed paint colors when students can learn to mix their own colors for more variety and more interesting results? Making a color wheel teaches students how to mix the colors they want while learning the basics of color theory!
You will need:
- Paper plates, 2 per student (one for a palette, one for the color wheel)
- Color wheel templates, cut out and glued onto “uncoated” paper plates (paint adheres best to the “uncoated” plates, and they’re cheaper, too!)
- Tempera paint: red (or magenta), yellow, and blue (or turquoise)… I like to use magenta and turquoise for color mixing since they’re closest in color to the magenta and cyan inks used in the four color printing process — magenta, yellow, cyan, and black.
- Water in small plastic containers (I like the clear, pint size containers from the deli)
- Medium size brushes
- Paper towels
- Color wheel poster (optional)
- Primary Color — red, yellow, or blue (a color that can’t be created by mixing other colors)
- Secondary Color — orange, green, or violet (a color created by mixing two primary colors together)
- Intermediate Color — a color created by mixing a primary color with a secondary color (ex. “yellow-orange”)
- Tertiary Color — a brown or gray created by mixing all three primary colors together
- Complimentary Colors — two colors directly across from each other on the color wheel (ex. yellow and violet, red and green, or blue and orange)
for grades 1 and 2…
1. Introduce the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Have students paint along with you as you demonstrate….
2. Turn your color wheel template so that the triangle labeled “yellow” is at the top. Then paint a swatch of yellow along the rim of your paper plate, where the triangle labeled “yellow” is pointing.
3. Rinse your brush and blot any excess water on a paper towel.
4. Paint the red swatch and the blue swatch in the same way, rinsing and blotting your brush each time you change colors.
5. Next, introduce the secondary colors (orange, green, and violet). Mix two primary colors to paint each secondary color in its appropriate place.
Continue with the intermediate colors for grades 3, 4, and 5…
6. Paint an intermediate color between each primary and secondary color. For each intermediate color, mix some of the primary color with the secondary color next to it, adding just a tiny amount of the darker color to a larger amount of the lighter color. (The name of an intermediate color always begins with its dominant primary color, followed by its secondary color, such as “yellow-orange” or “blue-green”.)
7. Tertiary colors are the browns and grays you get when you mix the three primary colors together. Your browns and grays will vary depending on the amounts you mix of each primary color. Mix a tertiary color and paint a swatch of it in the center of your color wheel. Save your color wheel where you can refer to it often!
For a printable 7 page pdf of this project (including my color wheel template), please visit my new Teachers Pay Teachers store!