Expressing Emotions Through Color Lesson Plan: Cool and Warm Colors

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, K-3

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-5, students use BrainPOP Jr. and/or BrainPOP resources to compare and contrast the emotions created by cool color artwork and warm color artwork. Students will then create two pieces of original art, one using cool colors and one using warm colors, and experiment with tints and shades to express different feelings or emotions.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Create two pieces of original art, one using cool colors and one using warm colors
  2. Compare and contrast the emotions created by cool color artwork and warm color artwork
  3. Experiment with tints and shades to express a feeling or emotion


  • paint and paint brushes, if possible
  • blank paper
  • crayons or colored pencils
  • Class set of printed copies of the Activity page
  • Computer and projector to show the BrainPOP movie and features


shade; tint; warm colors; cool colors


Prior to the first lesson, preview the Colors movie and print out the activity paper for students. Prior to the second lesson, prepare the classroom for students to paint.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Complete the Talk About It activity to determine students' prior knowledge. How do students know which colors are combined to make other colors? Have they ever experimented? Using what materials? Do they know what it's called when black or white is added to a color?
  2. Tell students they'll learn much more about these topics as you show the Colors movie. Pause throughout to discuss and elicit student observations.
  3. Distribute copies of the Activity page to the class and give students time to complete the two pictures either in class or as homework. Instruct children to leave the bottom of the sheet blank.
  4. The next day, have students share the drawings they did for the activity and review the difference between cool and warm colors. Have students speculate whether they used any crayon colors that are tints or shades and explain their thinking.
  5. Ask students recall what the movie taught them about how colors can be used to express feelings. Have children record the thoughts and feelings they have about their warm and cool pictures using the space provided on the bottom of the sheet, and then fold that part back so it's out of sight.
  6. Pair students up and have them share their drawings and talk about how their partner's warm and cool drawings make them feel. On your signal, have students reveal the bottom folded part of their papers. Were their partner's feelings the same ones they were trying to convey? Have students pair up again and repeat the activity.
  7. Bring the class back to a whole-group discussion and ask volunteers to share some examples where they and their partner did not agree on the feelings created from each picture. Talk about why that might be. Is there such thing as a right or wrong feeling to have when viewing a piece of art? Why might the same picture make different people feel different ways?
  8. Encourage students to recreate their picture on another sheet of paper, using paint if possible. This time, ask students to use tints and shades to convey a different thought or feeling. Some students might choose to use only pastels, or experiment with using various shades and tints of a single color.
  9. Show the final artwork of several students. Have the class share the thoughts and feelings they have when observing the colors used. What other colors might have created similar feelings? What colors could have been used to create the opposite reaction?
  10. Have students create titles or captions for their artwork and display them so other classes can see how color can be used to evoke feelings and emotions.
  11. Show either the Easy Quiz or Hard Quiz as a springboard for a closing discussion.

Extension Activity:

Show the Vincent Van Gogh movie and talk about how Van Gogh used color to express feelings. Compare two of his paintings using the Talk About It feature. How do the warm colors in the Sunflowers painting create different feelings than the cool colors used in the Self Portrait?