How to Teach Color | Elements and Principles of Design

How to Teach Color | Elements and Principles of Design

The third tutorial in our series, CONNECTING WITH THE ELEMENTS – How to Teach the Elements & Principles of Art, is color.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom

How exactly do you describe COLOR and why is it important?

After teaching children about Line & Pattern and Shape, there are many different paths you can follow when using the elements of art and principles of design as your curriculum guide.

For our own EPIC curriculum (a done-for-you curriculum availability only through The Sparklers Club), we recommend students learn about the elements COLOR after line, pattern and shape. This shows children how line and shape are used in art-making and then how colors can be used to create a beautiful, colorful work of art.

Teaching children about color theory, even the most basic concepts, sets students up with color mixing techniques to be reinforced with later lessons throughout the year.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom

Color Through the Grades

Kindergarten and first graders explores color by identifying the primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and begin basic mixing techniques to create secondary colors (orange, green, purple).

Second graders can focus on more specific goals of creating work or art using only primary colors to create a 6 color palette.

Third and fourth grade students can learn about warm and cool colors plus why warm/cool colors or analogous colors work so well together.

By fifth and sixth grade, students have experience with color theory basics. Now children can use their knowledge to make choices in their art to help make for more successful compositions.


Want to watch the art tutorial video on Facebook? Click here to view on the Deep Space Sparkle Facebook page.

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Need More Project Ideas?

Kinder – Third Grade

Play Doh Colorwheel – Manipulate colors by blending, kneading and rolling with basic play-doh. Template included in the free download on this page.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom

Colorwheel Clowns – Follow the steps to draw a fun clown then use primary colored paint to create secondary colors.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom with Colorwheel Clowns

Colorwheel Scarecrows – Follow a simple scarecrow line drawing then use primary paint colors to create secondary colors.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom with Colorwheel Scarecrows art

Fish Painting – Using warm and cool colors plus tints.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom with primary and secondary colors

Contour Cat – Explore warm and cool colors with this easy watercolor and pattern project.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom Contour Cat art project

Fourth – Sixth Grade

The Sketchbook Project – Learn to create tints and shades with this simple art activity that teaches children how to create their own tints and shades.

How to Teach Color Theory in the art classroom using the Sketchbook project

Teaching Color Theory – A fun acitvity that encourages children to consider a “recipe” for creating their own colors.

What do you think?

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  • Jill Sharwood

    Excellent. Thank you. I am a retired (upper) primary school teacher who was always deeply involved in classroom art. Now it is the grandchildren I practise my passion on. These Gas are not in upper years of school so I am really interested in your approach to the little guys.

  • becky

    Love this, thanks for making it available. I noticed that almost everything is backward, most obvious is anything in writing.

  • Denise

    I was watching the video and everything is backwards. Why is that? Love the video and the hand outs. I am a sparkler anyway.

    • Patty

      I’m using an iPad to record the video live. You can stream via Facebook with a camera so this is just what happens. I try to reverse print my handouts (when I remember) so that you can at least see the handout clearly 🙂

  • Rena Taylor

    I cannot open any of the video tutorials so far (Line, Shape, Color). I can’t access Facebook at school . I am also a Sparkler , but can’t find any of the videos in the membership files.
    How can I access the videos outside of Facebook ?

    • Patty

      Hi Rena….You should be able to view this video right in the website browser. I don’t believe you need to have a facebook account to view them.
      As a little backstory, I do free art tutorials most Thursdays and they aren’t meant solely for our members, so that’s why they are not located in the membership. However, I think it would make sense to also add them to the bundles. I’ll check with Neil regarding Facebook access…we might be able to download them and reload them for our Sparklers. I appreciate your input. Thanks Rena!

  • Lisa Hynek

    Unfortunately I cannot access the video. I was able to watch Lines and Patterns but this video seems to only be available on Facebook which our school has blocked. Is it available elsewhere?

    • Patty

      If you are a member of our Sparklers Club, we’ll have a MP4 version in our membership soon. 🙂

  • Julie Rempel

    I was looking for a free Teaching Water Colour PDF and I don’t see it…. : (

  • Linh

    Wonderful color study.

  • Karen Edden

    Fantastic!! Teaching my grandkids on line so this will be so helpful for me. Thank you so much.

  • Charlene Rushmere

    Your packages are amazing.

  • Karla Myers

    Helpful – thanks!

  • Sophia

    Amazing techniques

  • jlucz

    With so many of your other lessons, you have Objectives, Materials list and Standards listed. Why not for this one?

  • vskinner

    I am retiring from school so I no longer will have THIS email address, but I would like to switch my account over to my tutoring email. victoriaskinner@creative-learning-strategies.com. I don’t have a contact info for deep space sparkle and I am not on FB

    • Bethany

      Hi Victoria! Not a problem. Just reach out to Shannon at support@deepspacesparkle.com and she will help get your email changed! Easy fix for her.

  • Anna Ryan

    I am teaching art to a group of homeschoolers in the fall and am going to start with color theory. I really enjoy your approach and the fun curriculum you designed.

  • Cindy

    I love all of your lessons!

  • sandie parmer

    I am having trouble downloading some of the “Elements of Art” lessons. Is there anyway I can go back to those and download the packet?

    • Bethany

      Hi Sandie! This is Bethany from Team Sparkle. Thanks so much for letting us know that there is an issue with the link. We working on getting that taken care of, so please try again shortly. Thanks!

  • Elizabeth Chislett

    The Free Handout on Color does not take me there. Please advise.

    • Bethany

      Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for letting us know. We’ve fixed the link. If you click the download button and add your email address we will send the lesson directly to your inbox. Enjoy.

  • Kristin

    Thank you so much! Do you have a printout of your books you mentioned? Thanks!

    • Bethany

      Hi Kristin! The booklists for teaching Color is available to our members inside The Sparklers’ Club membership. If you are a Sparkler you can find the EPIC Master book lists as well as other resources under the Curriculums tab.

  • ssardar

    Really helpful and wonderful art!

  • Rebecca

    I will be teaching Art this school year. So glad to have found you!

  • Liisa

    Looks like a nicely organized!

  • Lynnete Klassen

    First year here…I need all the help
    I can get!

  • Terry yi

    Help. Our grandson just entered 6 grade middle
    School and has no art! Your positive program could really help us. I would like to join the sparkle club for 5-6 grade activities. Thankd

  • Denise

    I would like to buy the monthly plans but it just says to get on the waitlist. When do you open up so I can get the plans

    • Patty

      Our public enrollment is next August 2023, but if you sign up for waitlist, you’ll receive an invitation to join. 🙂 If you don’t receive the email, let us know. Just reach out to support@deepspacesparkle.com

  • Thara


    This is a great post in order to start off with. I find it much easier to teach kids colours in a art lesson. With little first graders I decided to take charge. I also appealed to their senses as much as possible. Good luck. Experiment in addition. Colours are fun.

    We mixed colours. This was done to find out about warm and cool shades of blue and so on. I also asked them to describe colours out loud as well. They had to guess the colour looking at it on a PowerPoint presentation. They also drafted a mini article on colours too.

    They learned the names of colours in a spelling test afterwards. At my own request they played a game to identify their colours. Find new ways to make it fun. This is my first teaching tip. Teach colours using outside the box thinking skills in question here. Visit a art store or studio to learn more.

  • shereen

    very informative

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