Grades: 2, 3, 4
Related Subjects: English - Language Arts, Mathematics, Visual & Performing Arts
Class time required: 1 X 50 minute session
Author: SDMA Education Department
Download an editable Lesson Plan
File Type: RTF (Choose Save-As when dialogue box appears)
In this one-session lesson, students will integrate their knowledge of geometric shapes and measuring to create a chart displaying primary and secondary colors.
- 11x17 white construction paper or watercolor paper
- Red, yellow, and blue paint
- Paper plates
- Water bowls
- Paper towels
- Tag board for shape templates
- Glossary terms: primary colors, secondary colors, warm colors, cool colors
- Print the above images onto overhead transparencies.
- Cut 2-inch high right triangles, rectangles, and squares out of tag board for each student.
- Create a blank color chart (PDF 84kb) (pencil lines, but no paint) to use as an example.
- Place primary colored paint, each on its own separate plate, before starting the art lesson.
- Shapes can be placed in plastic Ziploc bags, prior to the activity, for easy dispersal.
- A completely painted color chart can be used as an example for young students to copy. This would make the lesson more focused on painting technique, rather than exploring what happens when colors are combined.
1. Begin a discussion with the students about color: Who can name the primary colors? Why are they called primary? What happens when you mix the primary colors together? What are these new colors called? Why are they called secondary colors? Which colors feel warm when you look at them? Which colors feel cool when you look at them? Have the students spend the next minute, working with a partner, finding all of the primary colors in the classroom.
2. Show the students the transparency images. Use the following questions to guide the discussion about the images: What primary colors do you see in this painting? What secondary colors do you see? Does this painting have more warm colors or cool colors? What feelings or emotions do you think the artist was trying to get across? What kind of feelings do you feel when you look at this painting?
3. Explain the objective of the activity: to use geometric shapes to create a color chart. (PDF 84kb)
4. Hand out the shapes, construction paper, and a pencil to each student.
5. Ask the students to place the construction paper in a vertical position. Have them choose the shape with one right angle (triangle).
6. Measure 2-fingers’ width from the top of the left side of the paper and 2-fingers’ width from the left side of the paper. Place the triangle on the paper and trace it.
7. Next, place a pinky finger along the diagonal line of the triangle and place the triangle on the paper so that it faces the first triangle and forms a square. Trace the triangle.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 to draw two more sets of triangles below the first set of triangles.
9. Next, have the students choose the shape with four equal sides and four right angles (square).
10. Measure 2-fingers’ width from the top of the right side of the paper and 2-fingers’ width from the right side of the paper. Place the square on the paper and trace it. Repeat this step to draw two more squares underneath the first square.
11. Write “Primary Colors” above the triangles and “Secondary Colors” above the squares.
12. Draw equal signs between the triangles and the squares.
13. Next, have the students choose the shape that has four unequal sides and four right angles (rectangle).
14. Measure two-fingers’ width from the bottom left side of the paper and one finger’s width from the left side of the paper. Place the rectangle vertically and trace.
15. Place one-finger’s width along the right side of the rectangle and trace another vertical rectangle. Repeat once more until three vertical rectangles have been traced.
16. Repeat steps 14 and 15 starting from the right side of the paper.
17. Write “Warm Colors” above the left set of rectangles and “Cool Colors” above the right set of rectangles.
18. Demonstrate how to paint the color chart.
• The triangles are for the primary colors.
• The squares are for the secondary colors.
• The rectangles are for warm and cool colors.
• Start with the red paint and fill in the first triangle.
• When switching paint colors, clean the brush in the water and blot it on a paper towel, making sure that it is clean before moving on.
• Have the students name another primary color that red can mix with to create a secondary color (either yellow or blue). Paint this color in the second triangle. Ask the students to predict the secondary color that will be created by mixing these two primary colors.
• Show how to mix colors, using the paper plate as a palette. Pick up some red paint on the brush and place it on a blank spot of the palette. Then, pick up another primary color paint and add it to the red to create a secondary color.
19. Hand out the brushes, paint, paper plates, paper towels, and water. Have the students complete their color charts.
English-Language Arts: Students can choose one of the pieces of artwork shown in this lesson and create a poem describing the emotions felt while looking at the painting. Some ideas for poems: diamante, cinquain, haiku, or quatrain.
English-Language Arts: Students can choose one of the paintings from this lesson and pretend to be inside the painting. Have students write how they feel and what they see, using all of the five senses.
Mathematics: Students can use the artwork images from this lesson or look at artwork in books and create a bar graph displaying the number of primary colors/secondary colors found.
Visual Arts: Students can create a landscape painting, expressing mood through choice of color.
CA Content Standards
Second Grade Visual Arts
1.2 Perceive and discuss differences in mood created by warm and cool colors.
1.3 Identify the elements of art in objects in nature, the environment, and works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, and space.
2.2 Demonstrate beginning skill in the use of art media, such as oil pastels, watercolors, and tempera.
2.4 Create a painting or drawing, using warm or cool colors expressively.
3.1 Explain how artists use their work to share experiences or communicate ideas.
Third Grade Visual Arts
1.5 Identify and describe elements of art in works of art, emphasizing line, color, shape/form, texture, space, and value.
4.1 Compare and contrast selected works of art and describe them, using appropriate vocabulary of art.
5.2 Write a poem or story inspired by their own works of art.
Fourth Grade Visual Arts
1.3 Identify pairs of complementary colors (e.g., yellow/violet; red/green; orange/blue) and discuss how artists use them to communicate an idea or mood.
1.5 Describe and analyze the elements of art (e.g., color, shape/form, line, texture, space, value), emphasizing form, as they are used in works of art and found in the environment.
Second Grade Mathematics
2.1 Describe and classify plane and solid geometric shapes (e.g., circle, triangle, square, rectangle, sphere, pyramid, cube, rectangular prism) according to the number and shape of faces, edges, and vertices.
2.2 Put shapes together and take them apart to form other shapes (e.g., two congruent right triangles can be arranged to form a rectangle).
Third Grade Mathematics
2.1 Identify, describe, and classify polygons (including pentagons, hexagons, and octagons).
2.2 Identify attributes of triangles (e.g., two equal sides for the isosceles triangle, three equal sides for the equilateral triangle, right angle for the right triangle).
2.3 Identify attributes of quadrilaterals (e.g., parallel sides for the parallelogram, right angles for the rectangle, equal sides and right angles for the square).
Fourth Grade Mathematics
3.5 Know the definitions of a right angle, an acute angle, and an obtuse angle. Understand that 90°, 180°, 270°, and 360° are associated, respectively, with 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and full turns.
3.6 Visualize, describe, and make models of geometric solids (e.g., prisms, pyramids) in terms of the number and shape of faces, edges, and vertices; interpret two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects; and draw patterns (of faces) for a solid that, when cut and folded, will make a model of the solid.
3.7 Know the definitions of different triangles (e.g., equilateral, isosceles, scalene) and identify their attributes.
3.8 Know the definition of different quadrilaterals (e.g., rhombus, square, rectangle, parallelogram, trapezoid).
Second Grade English-Language Arts
2.1 Write brief narratives based on their experiences.
Third Grade English-Language Arts
2.1 Write narratives.
2.2 Write descriptions that use concrete sensory details to present and support unified impressions of people, places, things, or experiences.
Fourth Grade English-Language Arts
2.1 Write narratives.
Paul, Tony. How to Mix and Use Color: the artist’s guide to achieving the perfect color. Cincinnati, OH: North Light Books, 2003.
Zelanski, Paul. Color. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.
Art Basics, San Diego State University
The seven formal elements of art are described on this Web site.
A Guide to Building Visual Arts Lessons, the J. Paul Getty Museum
This comprehensive Web site includes definitions and examples of art elements, as well as a grade-by-grade guide to creating lessons for the classroom. It also includes several CA-standards aligned lesson plans for each grade level that focus on the elements of art.
Foundations in Art, University of Delaware
An introduction to the elements of art that includes images of artwork and concise explanations.
Learning to Look at Art
Learn about the elements of art by looking at famous pieces of artwork. This Web site provides background information on the piece of artwork and descriptions of how each piece is an example of an art element (line, color, texture, shape, form, space, and value.) It also includes interactive and printable activities for students.
Baxter, Nicola. Amazing Colors. Chicago, IL: Children’s Press, 1996.
Court, Rob. Color. Chanhassan, MN: The Child’s World, 2003.
Ehlert, Lois. Color Zoo. New York: HarperFestival, 1997.
Ehlert, Lois. Planting a Rainbow. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Inc., 2003.
Gogh, Vincent van. Vincent’s Colors. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005.
Flux, Paul. Color. Chicago, IL: Heinemann Library, 2001.
Richardson, Joy. Using Color in Art. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens, 2000.
Rodrigue, George. Why is Blue Dog Blue?: a tale of colors. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2001
Westray, Kathleen. A Color Sampler. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1993.
The Artist’s Toolkit: Visual Elements and Principles
Students can “Explore the Toolkit” to learn about and interact with the elements of art and create their own artwork.
Colorworm Explains Color
An interactive student Web site that teaches about the visible spectrum, the color wheel, and the painter’s palette.