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This excellent color wheel lesson introduces students to the moods, vocabulary, and theory of color.




1, 2, 3, 4, 5  

Title – Color Wheel
By – Nayeli Chacon
Primary Subject – Art
Grade Level – 1st – 5th


    Colors have expressive qualities. Artists select color for their effect. Bright or warm colors convey a feeling of happiness. Cool colors produce feelings of sadness and pessimism. Colors can also have symbolic significance and suggest abstract qualities. This project will introduce students to the theory of color with a hands-on experience.

CA Standards:

      1.2 Perceive and discuss differences in mood created by warm and cool colors.


      2.2 Mix secondary colors from primary colors and describe the process.


      2.5 Use symmetry to create visual balance.


      3.1 Explain how artists use their work to share experiences or communicate ideas.


      4.4 Use appropriate vocabulary of art to describe the successful use of an element of art in an artwork.


    5.3 Identify and sort pictures into categories according to the elements of art emphasized in the works.


  • Students will learn about the expressive qualities of color
  • Students will learn the primary colors
  • Students will mix secondary and tertiary colors from primary colors
  • Students will learn about complementary and analogous colors
  • Students will draw and paint their own color wheel
  • Students will discuss the successful use of color in selected artworks
  • Students will identify artworks in which the element of color is emphasized


  • one 12″ x 12″ piece of white cardboard
  • pencil
  • 10″, 5″ and 2″ circle templates
  • ruler
  • fine point black marker
  • one large white paper plate
  • small container for water
  • small size paint brush
  • yellow, red and blue paint

Sequence of Instruction:

      Day 1


      Students will be shown a color wheel and vocabulary terms will be introduced. Students will complete a vocabulary activity. Students will be shown selected artworks and will discuss differences in mood created by warm and cool colors. Students will discuss how artists use their works to communicate ideas and share experiences.


      Day 2


      Students will draw their own color wheel on the cardboard, using pencil first and outlining with the black marker. Students will write the names and numbers of the colors on their wheel.


      Day 3


      Students will begin painting their color wheel. They will divide their paper plate into six sections. Teacher will pour yellow, red and blue into three different sections. Students will create orange, green and purple in the remaining sections. Students will use half of each secondary color to create a tertiary color. Students should be finished painting their wheel by the end of the day.


      Day 4


    Students will be shown selected artworks and will discuss the successful use of color in each. Students will be shown selected artworks and will identify the ones in which the element of color is emphasized. During the last 20 minutes students who did not finish painting their color wheel will have the opportunity to do so. Students who are finished may start working on their homework.

Homework Assignment:

    Students will write a one page reflection paper about their project.


    Each student will be given a different task.

Vocabulary: Achromatic

      – free of color


      – hues that are next to one another on the color wheel


      – having color


      – the colors opposite to each other on the color wheel


      – the colors on the green-blue side of the color wheel


      – another word for color


      – having one color


      – having many colors

Primary Colors

      – red, blue and yellow

Secondary Colors

      – orange, green and purple. Are created by mixing primary colors


      – similarity on both sides of a dividing line.

Tertiary Colors

      – are created by mixing primary colors with secondary colors. They have a 3 on the color wheel.


    – the colors on the yellow-orange-red side of the color wheel

Assessment Rubric:

Criteria: Color wheel should be symmetric
  Secondary and tertiary colors are well differentiated
  Color wheel has the names and numbers of colors
  Reflection paper is at least one page and refers to project


4 Excellent : Student demonstrated a full understanding of the assignment. Work is done neatly, and was completed on time.
3 Good : Student understood assignment, however did not fulfill all the requirements. At least one requirement is missing. Project was completed and turned in on time.
2 Satisfactory : Student put little effort into creating the project. Two or more requirements are missing. Student did not follow directions, however, project was completed and turned in on time.
1 Poor : Student put no effort into the project. Only one requirement has been met. Student did not follow directions. Project is incomplete.
0 Unsatisfactory : Student did not turn in the project.


    Fichner-Rathus, Lois. Understanding Art. 7th Edition. [Chapter 2]


      Math – Measurement, Symmetry


      Science – Isaac Newton, Prism


    English – Symbolic language, eg. “I feel blue”, “green with envy”


Selected Artworks:

      Helen Frankenthaler


      Bay Side (1967)


      Acrylic on canvas.


      Hans Hofmann


      The Golden Wall (1961)


      Oil on canvas.


      Claude Monet


      Haystack at Sunset Near Giverny (1891)


      Oil on canvas.


      Claude Monet


      Impression: Sunrise (1872)


      Oil on canvas.


      Edvard Munch


      The Scream (1893)


      Casein on paper.


      Emil Nolde


      Still Life, Tulips (1930)


      Watercolor on paper.


      Judy Pfaff


      Voodoo (1981)


      Contact paper collage on mylar.


      Pablo Picasso


      The Old Guitarist (1903)


      Oil on canvas


      Mark Rothko


      Blue, Orange, Red (1961)


      Oil on canvas.


      Vincent Van Gogh


      Starry Night (1889)


    Oil on canvas.

E-Mail Nayeli Chacon !

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