Color Mixing in Grade One


We have been reviewing the primary and secondary colors in grade one. A great way to help students learn some color theory is to let them mix their own colors.

I saw this idea at Deep Space Sparkle and thought it would be fun to try with my little guys.  As I always say to my students, it’s ok to copy an idea as long as you change it and make it your own and that is what we did with this lesson.  I didn’t give out template shapes for the kids as suggested however we did talk about different fishes and sea creatures that could be drawn. I also demonstrated how to overlap fishes and this really caught my students’ attention.

I gave out large 12×18 white paper and the kids drew seven sea animals medium to large size. Two to three fish were encouraged to overlap. Each fish was outlined with a black marker.

The art smocks came on, and everyone had a paint palette with the red, yellow and blue. They chose three fishes to be the primary color fish.

Next they mixed two primary colors together and painted another fish with the new secondary color. As they made a new color, they painted another fish. Fish number sevens is for all three primary colors mixed together.

When these were dry, I gave out white and blue paint. They mixed these two to create a light blue. This is the perfect time to introduce the word: tint and the magic of using white to make colors lighter. The backgrounds were painted and left to dry.

Finally, all the fish were re- outlined with a thick black marker. Bubbles, rocks, seaweed, sunken treasures, etc. were all added, outlined and colored in with oil pastels.

Didn’t these turn out gorgeous?

3 thoughts on “Color Mixing in Grade One

  1. I love your lessons and ideas! Thank you for sharing. First year teaching Art in an elementary school and I’m so excited, but have several questions about procedures and would love some ideas. How do you distribute paint and paintbrushes to your students? How do you have them clean up after themselves? We only have 35 minutes for each class so I find that most lessons take several weeks to complete. Do you give each student 1 brush to mix colors with, or several to create a palette? I want to expose them to so many different things, but haven’t found “one way” that works the best. I’d love some suggestions to try and find the one that works for me and my students.

    • Hi Kristi–first year teaching can be daunting but you will get through it just fine..trust me on this! Organization is key especially when you see so many kids and grade levels. I will try and answer your questions. When my students paint I give them a brush or two each (small, medium, big, depending on the project) and their own water container. Sometimes i also let them share a container of water with their neighbor and they must take turns to clean the water. I designate 2-3 washers at the sink and one person from each table takes the brushes, paint palettes, etc.. to the sink for the washers to clean up. Everyone cleans the tables, room etc.. When mixing colors, I like for everyone to have their own palette if possible (styrofoam trays are fabulous so start saving these up) or at least share with a partner. Kids should have the freedom to create their own colors they want without someone else messing their new color. As the year moves along you will start figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Younger kids need much more structure as they start learning your routines. Let me know how it goes and if you need more tips. That’s what I’m here for!!! :)

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