Primary and Secondary Colors Lesson Plan: How Are Colors Created?

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: K-3

In this multi-day lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades K-3, students use BrainPOP Jr. resources to identify primary/secondary colors as well as warm/cool colors and their relationship to each other. Students will also explore how black and white can be added to colors to create shades and tints, and analyze how color can be used to express feelings and convey ideas in art.

Students will:

  1. Identify primary/secondary colors as well as warm/cool colors and their relationship to each other.
  2. Explain how black and white can be added to colors to create shades and tints.
  3. Analyze how color can be used to express feelings and convey ideas in art.

Materials:

  • Food coloring drops and several glasses of water
  • Projector and internet access for BrainPOP Jr.
  • Enough computers for 1/3 of the class to use independently
  • Black, white, yellow, red, and blue paint
  • Enough paintbrushes for 1/3 of the class to use at one time
  • Thick paper for painting
  • Photocopies of any activities you want students to complete without the use of a computer

Vocabulary:

shade; tint; primary color; secondary color; self-portrait

Preparation:

Preview the BrainPOP Jr. Colors movie and lesson plan to determine how you can best adapt it for your students' needs. Determine which, if any, of the stations will be completed without computers and make photocopies as needed. Set up stations prior to each day's lesson.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Day 1: Ask students if they have ever tried to mix colors of paint or crayons. What happens? How can new colors be made? Demonstrate what happens when various food coloring drops are added to water. Ask students to make predictions and make observations about what they see.
  2. Show the Colors movie to the class with the closed captioning on so that students can read the vocabulary terms.
  3. Review what students learned from the movie by displaying the Word Wall. Have students suggest definitions for each term before you click the word to reveal BrainPOP Jr.'s definition. Can students name examples of each term?
  4. Divide students into three groups to explore colors in different stations:
    --The first group can use the Draw About It feature to use color to express a feeling.
    --The second group can use the Write About It feature to tell about how the color red makes them feel and the Talk About It feature to show how different colors, tints, and shades are made. You can print these directions out for students if you don't have enough computers for everyone to use.
    --The third group should experiment with various paint colors under your guidance. Talk with students as they explore the concepts they learned in the movie: What effect does white have on a color? Black? What happens when two primary colors are mixed together? Help students use their new vocabulary words to talk about what they experience.
  5. Allow each group to have about 10 minutes at each station so all students have a chance to explore all three activities.
  6. Day 2: Revisit the Word Wall, displaying the definitions this time and having students supply the terms.
  7. Divide students into three groups to extend their understanding of colors in three new stations:
    --The first group can take the Hard Quiz, play the Matching Game, and revisit any of the Colors features (including the movie itself) that they would like to explore further.
    --The second group can use crayons to complete the Activity. This can serve as an assessment to see how well students understand the use of warm and cool colors.
    --The third group will play a game as they experiment with various paint colors. Give the children red, blue, yellow, black, and white paints and thick paper. Have one student create a color using a combination of two paints while the other group members close their eyes or turn away. Then have the group members try to recreate the same color. Remind students to add small amounts of paint–-it's easier to add a color than to take one away.
  8. Allow each group to have about 10 minutes at each station so all students have a chance to explore all three activities.
  9. Bring students back to a whole class discussion and show an image of a painting they are familiar with from a book, movie, or previous unit of study. Invite students to make inferences about how the artwork was created: Are tints and shades used? Mostly warm or cool colors? Which primary colors might the artist have combined to create the secondary colors in the painting? How do the colors help the artist convey a feeling or idea?

Extension Activity:

Encourage students to analyze a favorite piece of art. They can write (or tell) about the colors used by the artist, how those might have been created, and what ideas and feelings are expressed through color.