Color Wheel

Fun with Color Wheels

“Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.” Paul Gauguin


Objective: Teaching students about the elements of art is an important part of an art educators’ job. But some of the traditional lessons can seem overly academic and downright boring to many children who thrive with more creative projects. One never forgets the teacher who assigns the tedious task of creating a value scale with 98 shades of grey to get from pure white to black. Excessive to say the least! When it comes to color theory, verbal instruction and testing students on concepts learned, is not always a successful strategy. With color being such an important foundational skill, it is important to allow children to experiment and test theories to really understand the power, subtleties, and importance of color in art. Depending on the age of your child and their artistic abilities, a basic understanding of:  Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, Analogous, Complementary, and Monochromatic colors should be explored as part of their development. Additional color vocabulary such as: tint, shade, tone, hue, intensity, saturation, etc… can also be learned over time. There are countless online instructional lessons to teach color theory and some very fun ideas for making it fun. We have always found the best approach allows for students to “own” their own lesson plan by giving them the information and allowing them the freedom to create their own color wheel. Give your artist the choice of any media they want to use (within reason) and simple objectives. Just when we think we’ve seen every color wheel project possible, a student will come up with something surprising and new.

Here are some ideas:

  • Turn a plain umbrella into a functional color wheel
  • Painted rocks
  • Experiment mixing Play Dough together to create secondary colors and various tints / shades
  • Collage color wheels using magazine cut outs
  • Search through your toy box for solid color toys to create a sculptural color wheel
  • Make a homemade color wheel spinning toy
  • Turn an old globe, beach ball, or other sphere into a 3-D color wheel
  • Melted crayons
  • Use Legos, thread bobbins, flower petal or other natural materials, buttons, etc…
  • Zentangled color wheels


Extra: We love the book Mix It Up by Herve Tullet for teaching color theory in a fun, interactive way for the little ones.