Objectives: To see and understand the relationships between the primary and the secondary colors by making a color wheel.
Materials: containers of yellow, red and blue tempera paint, small plastic spoons, paintbrushes, rectangular pieces of light-weight cardboard to use as palettes, paper towels, water dishes, paper circles 12" in diameter, small bottle caps, chart paper
1. Begin by demonstration. Using a small bottle cap for each primary color (red, yellow and blue) color, trace and then color in each circle in paint on the paper color wheel. Be sure to position them correctly to form a triangle where the blue circle is in the top left section, the red one directly across from it on the top right side and the yellow circle at the bottom of the wheel. Emphasize how you must wash and wipe your brush each time you change colors. Take a moment to list on chart paper what these primary colors are. Then circulate to assist the students in this part of the activity.
2. Explain that now we are going to mix colors carefully to produce our secondary colors to show on this wheel. Elicit from the students which two colors they think will make orange, green and purple. Demonstrate mixing small dabs of color on the palette. Emphasize that you put only a small dab on the palette and then, using a different spoon, dab on the other color. Tell them that it is important to mix the colors with your brush until there are no streaks left. When the color is made, students are then to paint the color circle on their wheel. There is a particular order in which this is to be done. First, make yellow on top of red to create orange. Paint the orange circle between the yellow and red one on the wheel. Then add blue to yellow to create green and paint that circle between the yellow and blue circles on the color wheel. Finally, add blue to the red to create purple and paint the circle between the red and blue circles. Emphasize again that you must rinse your brush after creating each new color.
3. List on the chart the secondary colors of orange, green and purple.
4. Allow the color wheels to dry. They will be used for future reference by the students as they do their paintings.
adapted from Cathy Weisman Topal's Children and Painting, pp. 46-47.