Today, I will teach you the basic information you need to teach color theory, build a color wheel and ideas for developing a unit study. Resources that we use will be given to, either as affiliate links or just good ole fashioned resource links across the homeschool/education web.
Just remember to have fun! Remember, this is designed for 3-6 year olds...not a third grader. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. Get a little messy.
What Is Color Theory?
- The science of understanding colors, how they work together, and how to use them to create art.
- Three basic categories of color theory: color wheel, color harmony, and color cooperation. Today we are only going to talk about the color wheel.
That's all you need to teach introductory color theory. Later, you can add other elements of color theory as the children age. For example, you can add in the notion of warm vs. cool, color schemes and the use of black and white spaces.
Fun Facts About Color Theory:
- Dogs can only see two different kinds of colors. They are known as dichromats.
- Humans have three different kinds of cells that process color making them trichromats.
- In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton developed the first color wheel.
- The world's favorite color is blue.
- Red is the first color humans see.
- Bright yellow is the most irritating color to the human eye.
The Color Wheel
The primary colors are red, blue, and yellow. They are the colors that cannot be made by mixing any other colors together. They make all of the other colors.
Make Your Wheel:
To make a primary color wheel, have your child cut out thirds of yellow, blue and red before gluing them onto a piece of large white paper.
Label the paper as "Primary Color Wheel" and have the child label each color.
This is more productive than simply drawing a circle and coloring in the thirds because it encourages hand-eye coordination. Let them write the color names too!
Secondary colors are made by mixing together primary colors. The secondary colors are orange, green, and purple. You can make the colors by mixing:
- Blue + Yellow = Green
- Red + Yellow = Orange
- Red + Blue = Purple
Make Your Wheel:
To make a primary color wheel, have your child cut out sixths of yellow, blue, red, green, orange, and purple before gluing them onto a piece of large white paper.
Label the paper as "Secondary Color Wheel" and have the child label each color.
Using the Color Wheel for Lessons
- After making the color wheels, get out a big piece of paper or go outside and use the concrete.
- Strip your kid down to his/her undies.
- Supply the nearly nude child with three paint brushes and cups of the three primary colors. I ALWAYS use Crayola Washable Paint...always. Because we get messy and I don't care if paint goes from the paper to the body. It really is washable. I promise.
- Use conversation to talk about primary colors and secondary colors:
- "How do you think we could use these colors to get [insert color]?"
- "What would happen if we mixed red, blue, and yellow together?"
- "How can we make green?"
- "What's your favorite color?"
- Through the questions and the painting process, suggest that the child look at the color wheels. But also encourage free exploration. Both ways will show the child how color come together...how they are made...and definitely how they are not made.
- If paint gets on the child's skin, say, "Don't worry. We'll wash this off when we are ALL done." Let's not go creating a clean freak.
- Don't stop the painting project until all secondary colors have been created.
- Ask the child to paint you a picture using all primary and secondary colors.
Unit Study Ideas
- Make the color wheel.
- Paint or draw with only primary colors.
- Paint or draw with only secondary colors.
- Paint or draw with black, white, and one other color
- Do color-by-numbers
- Write the color names using the appropriate colored pen or crayon or pencil. This reinforces the color and the writing.
- Have the child draw a picture using their favorite color. Underneath the picture, have the child write, "My favorite color is _____________."
- Read about colors.
- Read about famous artists.
- Read about physicists.
- Read about vision, light, and color.
- Perform simple 1+1 = 2 addition facts.
- Do vision experiments by placing primary colors in front of white and black paper to talk about brightness.